The Montgomery bus boycott lasted from December of 1955 through December of 1956. What people often remember of that moment in history is that when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, it sparked a bus boycott that was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But what that retelling leaves out are all the women who organized for years to make that boycott a reality and who helped sustain it for 13 long months.
Here you can can meet the women who's voices you hear in the podcast, see their faces and read their stories. Together, these women created a turning point in American history.
On March 2, 1955, when Claudette Colvin was 15 years old, she was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white woman. This happened nine months before the story we all know about Rosa Parks.
Colvin told her story to Radio Diaries, explaining that when the bus driver ordered her to get up, she refused, saying she'd paid her fare and that it was her constitutional right. Two police officers put her in handcuffs and arrested her. Her school books went flying off her lap.
"So the bus driver yelled to the back, 'Give me them seats.' But I remained seated. Since I had been studying in history the injustices, segregation, and talk about our heroes, it felt like Harriet Tubman's hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth's hand on me pushed me down on another one. History had me glued to the seat."