We keep fighting for a better world, and sometimes we get depressed. We don’t seem to be moving toward a more democratic society. In fact, our political and economic leaders preach the Scrooge-had-it-right economics of the 1840s.
We still have to keep building support groups for justice, though, and here’s a story that shows why our efforts are important, even when we don’t think they are.
Back in the early 1950s, a group of black women in Montgomery, Alabama fought for better conditions for black people on the city buses. They called themselves the Women’s Political Council, and nobody paid much attention to them because their dream of equality on the buses didn’t seem realistic.
In 1954 these Montgomery women invented a system to distribute 50,000 notices calling people to boycott the buses. Only the time and place had to be added. Some members of the black community told the women they were wasting their time. There was no way black people could challenge the white power structure in Montgomery, Alabama. The women, however, kept on organizing because they believed that what they were doing was right.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to stand up in a Montgomery bus when ordered to give her seat to a white person. Her action had not been planned. Rosa was returning home from her job as a seamstress, and she was tired. She did care about community issues, though, and had attended a seminar on civil rights at the Highlander Centre a few weeks earlier.
As soon as the Women’s Political Council heard that Rosa Parks had been arrested, it printed tens of thousands of leaflets announcing a bus boycott. Thanks to the distribution system set up by the women, most black people in Montgomery knew about the bus boycott within hours.
It wasn’t until the first day of the bus boycott was over that a 26 year old Minister, Martin Luther King, got up to speak to thousands of people at a church in Montgomery. “There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression,” he said, and the civil rights movement in the United States was on its way.
Keep fighting, friends, so that when the tide changes, we will be ready.