BROWDER V. GAYLE
The Supreme Court ruled that the city of Montgomery, state of Alabama and the National City Bus Line was operating intra-city busses in violation of “due process and equal justice” rule of law of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The ruling of the court brought an end to the boycott, removed the color line, reversed the Plessy Transportation case of 1896-foundation of jim crow, launched the Modern Civil Rights Movement (1955-56),and launched the career of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as an International Civil and Human Rights Leader.
The Unheralded Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott:
The Browder V. Gayle Class Action Lawsuit and Four Female Plaintifss.
In 1955, there was more at stake than a seat on the bus. The entire future of a race of people and the life of a nation was on the “bus-line.” This cataclysmic era in the history of the United States and the State of Alabama was about an opportunity to participate fully in the political, social, and economic affairs of this nation. The right to sit down and discuss community, state, and national affairs with and as elected officials was on the “bus-line.” Seats in movie theaters, congress, state legislatures, the governor’s mansion, the judicial bench, restaurants, schools, libraries, jury boxes, concert halls, boardrooms, and at discussion tables in all walks of life were on the “bus-line.” The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a major social movement that brought international attention to the plight of Black Americans.
Historians have perpetuated the myth that the actions of Mrs. Rosa Parks and the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott ended segregated seating on intra city buses and that Brown v Board ended segregation in the United States of America. Without a doubt, both of these were nation-changing events that shook this nation to its core and caused us to take a hard look at the values we espoused as a leader of the free world. But the event that actually ended segregation, the Browder v Gayle lawsuit, barely gets a nod from historians and is seldom mentioned in textbooks. Browder v Gayle ended segregated seating not only on intra-city buses but ended segregation in every area of life and virtually opened the door of citizenship to all.
Essential Questions: What impact did the Montgomery Bus Boycott have on life in the United States of America? What impact did the Browder v Gayle lawsuit have on life in the United Sates of America? What was really at stake? Was this entire issue just about a seat on the bus?
These and other questions are answerd in the documentary film : More Than A Bus Ride, the More Than A Bus Ride Curriculum Guide, and the soon to be released, the unpublished manuscript: Reflections, Conversations of the Producer.
Note: William Dickerson-Waheed lived in Montogmery during the research and production of the documentary. His primary sources for the story include: lawyers and surviving plaintiffs of Browder V Gayle, court records, city records, interviews with participants and leaders of the Montgomery Movement, noted historians and constitutional lawyers from Alabama.