National Bar Association members are inviting the public to join them in their national celebration starting November 30, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They will acknowledge the historical event via a Civil Rights Commemoration Tour on November 30 and December 1. They are only one of many organizations celebrating the event across the nation.
“NBA CLE seminar lawyers [will] retrace the journey of American civil rights battles fought in Alabama,” said Bar members on their registration website.
“The public meeting on December 1st will feature Secretary Hilary Rodham Clinton, Esq. and include great Civil Rights leaders of the era and the present, Fred Gray and Benjamin L. Crump, along with the first African American woman to lead the American Bar Association, Paulette Brown…”
Also taking part in tributes to the event that changed the course of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, are a variety of groups from historically black colleges and media outlets. The city of Montgomery itself has events planned from November 29-Decembe 5. Their theme is “Uncommon Courage: Leaving footsteps. Leading Change.”
This year, said Montgomery officials, is all about the youth.
“In reflecting on the history, one aspect that consistently stood out was that the movement was led by young people,” Barbaranette Bobbie, one of the planners for the commemoration told the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, National Public Radio has planned its own celebration to take place on December 1 at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery.
“The 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott offers a rare opportunity to both look back and forward,” said NPR officials
“Our event will feature a dialogue with elders who took part in the movement, as well as conversations with a diverse group of young people who will share their vision for the future.”
Their musical guest Belle Monique will perform with Ron Handy. Monique is a Montgomery, Alabama native and daughter of jazz musician Samuel P. Williams. She will be joined by the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church Choir who provide inspiration every Sunday to the parishioners of the historic church. During the event, NPR and WVAS together will host a live Twitter conversation, inviting the nation to follow along or join in @NPRMichel, @WVAS, #busboycott60.
“This is much larger than the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March Commission,” said Montgomery’s County Commission Chairman Elton Dean.
“This really changed everything.”
The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted from December 1, 1955 to December 20, 1956. Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks kicked off the turning point in U.S. history by refusing to give up her bus seat to a White person. During the time Montgomery law dictated that Black residents could only sit at the back of the bus, but if the bus was crowded then Blacks would have to stand while Whites occupied the seats. Parks was arrested for her refusal. The boycott had been coming together before Parks and her arrest was the catalyst for one of the most massive boycotts in the country’s history.
For one year Blacks, rather than submit to the abusive Jim Crow, effectively crippled a large part of the city’s economy, all but forcing the law to be overturned.
In Montgomery on December 1 at 6:00 pm (the date and time of Parks’ arrest), the community is invited to gather in front of the monument by Troy University’s Rosa Parks Center for the unveiling of a new city historical marker. At the same time, all area churches are asked to ring their bells in commemoration.
On November 23, a pair of exhibits at the Rosa Parks Museum on Troy University’s Montgomery Campus became a part of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. “The Montgomery Bus Boycott: A Reflection of 60 Years” opened in the museum’s gallery. It will be on display until February 29 and “will explores through photographs how the bus boycott was reported in local newspapers, how the black community worked together to make the boycott successful and the challenges of obtaining civil rights and equality today,” according to the Trojan News Center.
“In addition, a special collection featuring rare artifacts related to Mrs. Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott will be exhibited in the gallery from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. Among the items included in the special collection is the original fingerprint arrest record of Rosa Parks, a fare machine from a 1955 bus and a Jim Crow-era waiting room sign.”
For its part the NBA will offer attendees the chance to see Selma, Tuskegee, and Montgomery on their tour.
“Attendees of the event will be able to tour the Rosa Parks Museum, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and other prominent marks in Civil Rights history,” they said.