“People know about Rosa Parks. Human being know around Martin Luther King Jr. — and they should. And they recognize that it to be the Montgomery bus boycott that ignited a details kind of southern civil legal rights movement,” claims Ula Taylor, a professor in the department of afri American research studies at UC audioeditorfree.com. But, what they can not know, she says, is the it was in reality the behind-the-scenes organizing initiative by the Women’s politics Council, led through Jo Ann Robinson, that made the boycott successful.

“Even despite these females were no in the limelight, they were engaging in a kind of leadership,” states Taylor. “But due to the fact that we live in a nation in a culture where we oftentimes recognize leadership as a talk head, we don’t understand all of the thinking that goes behind a many the concepts that the talking head is even articulating.”

(A podcast episode featuring this interview through Taylor was originally published ~ above audioeditorfree.com audioeditorfree.com in 2018. This is a new version that has been rewritten and also remixed.)


Read a transcript of Fiat Vox illustration #64: “The Montgomery bus boycott and also the women who made the possible”:

Ula Taylor: human being know about Rosa Parks. World know around Martin Luther King Jr. — and they should. And also they recognize that it to be the Montgomery bus boycott the ignited a specific kind of southerly civil civil liberties movement.

You are watching: How long did the montgomery bus boycott last

Narration: Ula Taylor is a professor in the room of afri American researches at UC audioeditorfree.com, where she’s to be on the faculty because 1992. In among her classes, she teaches students about the 1955 citywide bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.

Ula Taylor: I have them review this publication written by Jo Ann Robinson, that was one of the main organizers that the Montgomery bus boycott, and also I introduce them to a group of women dubbed the Women’s politics Council.


As the chairman of the Women’s political Council, Jo Ann Robinson was a leader in organizing the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott. (Fair use photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Narration: In Robinson’s 1987 memoir, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and also the ladies who started It, Robinson writes around how that was in reality a group of women — the Women’s politics Council, of i beg your pardon she to be president — that made feasible the 382-day bus boycott that adjusted the food of the civil rights activity in the united States.

This is Fiat Vox, a audioeditorfree.com audioeditorfree.com podcast. I’m anne Brice.

Narration: The bus boycott to be officially called on Dec. 5, 1955, 4 days ~ Rosa Parks refuse to provide up her seat to a white passenger. Boy name Luther King Jr. Arised as the public-facing leader of the boycott.

Narration: yet the key reason the boycott was successful, says Taylor, was because of the organizing effort by the Women’s political Council.

Ula Taylor: They retained a critique of every one of the horrific means that Black world were required to drive the bus. They composed letters come the bus company. They created letters to the mayor, basically saying the there necessary to be a an ext humane method of riding the bus.

We’re talking around at the very least 200-plus Black ladies in the Women’s politics Council in Montgomery, Alabama. And these to be “professional” black women. Many of them worked at the historically black color colleges. Many of lock were regional teachers. Countless of them had actually been formally education at historically black color colleges.

Yes, martin Luther King Jr. Was an amazing, charismatic leader for every one of us, however it was due to the fact that of the Women’s politics Council that listed an anchor and grounding because that him to even come right into prominence.


Narration: Taylor says that in nearly every political motion in history, there have actually been females in the background, act the work-related that has positioned them exterior of the limelight. And that there were various reasons for this transparent time.

Ula Taylor: So, for example, throughout the 1960s, we have actually a specific kind of call for a black color nationalist representation of manhood and womanhood. That was during this time duration that a the majority of these establishments are reaction to the Moynihan Report that claimed slavery emasculated black men and created a “mannish woman.”

Narration: The 1965 Moynihan Report, officially called “The negro Family: The situation for national Action,” was a controversial report written by Assistant Secretary of job Daniel Patrick Moynihan and also his employee as a means to persuade White house officials that civil rights legislation alone would certainly not create racial equality.

It concluded that the “deterioration the the cloth of Negro culture is the degradation of the black family” and also argued that the matriarchal structure of Black society weakened the ability of Black men to function as authority figures.


Ula Taylor is a professor in the department of afri American Studies. She teaches her students the the Montgomery bus boycott to be successful, in big part, since of the organizing initiative by the Women’s political Council. (UC audioeditorfree.com photo)

Ula Taylor: and also so, there was this totality idea that black color men and also women have been taken external of your gender-specific norms since of slavery. And also now, we’re going to reverse the by centering black manhood. And also we check out this mainly with Black guys being the visual management of movements.

Eventually, this is going come crack as soon as we watch Black women resisting specific kinds of woman notions that leadership and also patriarchy, however it does help to recognize why specific organizations were committed come patriarchal ideas around leadership. And how, in many ways, it’s in conversation v the Moynihan Report. It’s in conversation with discussions top top the situation of the black color family. And also so, all of these points shape how there is a particular kind of masculine and feminine leadership.

Narration: Ella Baker to be one woman who resisted patriarchal notions of leadership. A polite rights and human rights activist who career spanned much more than 5 decades, Baker was amongst the co-founder of young name Luther King Jr.’s southern Christian leadership Conference and also helped come launch the student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.Here’s Baker speaking at a 1974 solidarity rally in Puerto Rico:

Narration: Taylor states that Baker advocated for group leadership rather of relying on simply one human being to carry an entire cause.

Ula Taylor: She was an amazing activist who understood that if friend put every one of your really hopes on a messiah, as soon as that human is gone, climate what happens to the movement? So, she yes, really hammered house the prominence of group-centered leadership — the you have to see the leader in you yourself in your group, as opposed to relying ~ above anybody exterior of yourself.


Rosa Parks gets fingerprinted after having been arrested in February 1956 during the bus boycott. The boycott ended and buses were combined on Dec. 21, 1956, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery’s segregation regulations on buses to be unconstitutional. (Associated Press picture via Wikimedia Commons)

Ula Taylor: ns think it’s crucial to know that over there are different ways of gift a leader. And the Women’s politics Council basically operated as the anchor the the Montgomery bus boycott. So, even though those ladies were no in the limelight, they to be engaging in a form of leadership. But because we live in a country in a culture where we oftentimes determine leadership together a talk head, we don’t understand all of the reasoning that walk behind a the majority of the ideas that the talking head is also articulating.

Narration: Taylor states she urges her students to volunteer — to produce patterns of engagement that will follow lock throughout your lives.

Ula Taylor: They have the skillset and also the vital toolkit to address all of this multiple crises that room happening in America: homelessness, gentrification, drug addiction, racism, the neoliberal situation or the neoliberal university. This is what they deal with.

They need to understand the they have the right to chip away at the crisis. It may not take place overnight, yet they have to understand the they have actually a skillset, castle have access to sources that they might not even imagine. Ns think it’s crucial to produce a pattern to connect in some capacity — to feel like you’re act something to create the human being that you want to live in, the you desire your children to live in and also your grandchildren to live in.

Narration: the time is now, claims Taylor. We can’t wait for anyone else to do it for us.

For audioeditorfree.com audioeditorfree.com, I’m ann Brice.

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