Source A is a US Government Report from 1947 titled ‘To secure these rights’. There are two diagrams depicted in shown section of the report. The part of it that is shown has the writing ‘The Nations Capital. A symbol of freedom and equality?’
The first picture describes a Negroes journey from North to South. In the North we can see that the transport is shared between both Negroes and Whites. As they get further South into Washington. D.C., they must change to ‘Jim Crow’ trains. Jim Crow trains were the trains that Negroes were made to use. They were of a lower standard than the transport provided for the Whites.
First of all the source gives me the impression that at that time the white Americans were the ones who were the more powerful. If the black Americans had been as powerful then there would either have been a civil war or there wouldn’t have been any problems.
It also shows me that the white Americans still had no respect for the black Americans. They still treated them as slaves. They didn’t allow them the most simplest of public facilities.
But it does show us that the government knew about these problems, it is from a 1947 US government report. It was questioning the equality of black Americans. I think this shows us that the American Government knew it wasn’t fair but decided not to change it because they knew that it would cause trouble amongst the white Americans who were often killing black Americans.
Source B shows a leaflet issued by the Women’s Political Council in December 1955. It was calling for a boycott of the Montgomery buses. The reason for the boycott was that the law said that black passengers were to give up their seat to white passengers.
The rules about bus regulations were very strict even going upto the point where ‘No black passenger was allowed to sit parallel to a white passenger’. The blacks had to obey orders from the white bus drivers who were often rude to them.
Recently black people had refused to give up their seat to white passengers. One such person was Rosa Parks. She refused to give up her seat to a white passenger and go and stand at the rear of the bus. She was arrested and fined $10.
After this, as the leaflet shows, the black people called for a boycott of the buses. This would have been quite damaging to the bus companies, as roughly 75% of their passengers were black. The reason for the blacks making up 75% of the passengers was that they lived in such poor conditions and couldn’t afford a motorcar.
The protestors demands were; a more polite service from the white drivers, the employment of black drivers and the end of black passengers having to stand when the bus was not full.
I think that the whites would have had fairly mixed views about this campaign. On one hand, the blacks seemed quite powerful and this may have worried the whites as this was a show of power and was damaging the white bus companies businesses but on the other hand it meant that there were more bus seats and they could feel less pressurised by the blacks around them.
If I was a white southerner then I think I would feel angrily towards the blacks for trying to have a say in what they could and couldn’t do. I would find their optimism and confidence intimidating and would want to join a group such as the KKK so that I would feel more powerful than the blacks. I don’t think that the whites would have cared very much about the fact that there were more bus seats but felt more strongly about the fact that the blacks were attempting to overthrow the whites control.
Source B as previously discussed is a leaflet advising the black community of Montgomery as to what to do on the day of the Montgomery bus boycott. Source C is the front cover to a book by Martin Luther King about the Montgomery bus boycott called the Stride Toward Freedom. The writing above the title gives a brief on the book, it says ‘A leader of his people tells The Montgomery Story’. It was published in 1958, four years after the boycott.
The evidence about the organisation of the boycott from Source B is given in text format. It gives an order to the blacks not to travel anywhere on the buses on December 5th. It gives a reason as to why there is a boycott by saying that another black has been arrested for not giving up her seat. It then gives a few alternative means of travel other than the bus. It then states that there is a meeting discussing the boycott the evening of the boycott.
The evidence of the organisation of the boycott given on the front cover of the book. Is all in text along with the picture of Martin Luther King. The eye grabbing text is the title- Stride Toward Freedom. This shows determination to fight for what he believes in. It echoes the thoughts of black Americans. It gives them the confidence to stand up for their rights. When it says about ‘a leader of his people’ it gives the sense of a person who knows what he wants and is prepared to speak out for his rights. The boycott is depicted as a success and triumph by calling it ‘The Montgomery Story’. The top caption looks like a selling point but it tells us that Martin Luther King was a religious man and had God’s power on his side.
J. F. Kennedy proposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the September of 1963 and was due to come before congress in November of that year. It contained the following provisions; a ban on exclusion from public places, the Attorney-General could file law suits to speed up desegregation etc, the FEPC (Fair Employment Practises Commission) was set up on a permanent legal basis, no discrimination on any federally aided programmes and finally a Community Relations Service was set up to deal with remaining disputes. During November however, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Source D comments on an event leading up to the Civil Rights Act; the March to Washington held in the summer of 1963. The march was held