When I look at this, when I look at the video clips of the beatings and of the marches, I thank God civil rights leaders in the ’50s and ’60s didn’t just shut up and go away. I thank the heavens they didn’t just pack up and go home. Thank you for giving us, as an American people, our souls back.
On December 1, 1955, during a typical evening rush hour in Montgomery, Alabama, a 42 year-old woman took a seat near the front of the bus (illustrated in this diagram) on her way home from the Montgomery Fair department store where she worked as a seamstress. Before she reached her destination, she quietly set off a social revolution when the bus driver instructed her to move, and she refused. The bus driver called the police and they arrested Rosa Parks, an African American woman of unchallenged character.
The African-American community of Montgomery organized a boycott of the buses in protest of the discriminating treatment they had endured for years. The boycott, under the leadership of 26-year-old minister Martin Luther King, Jr., was a peaceful, coordinated protest that lasted 381 days and captured world attention.