"History is past politics, and politics present history." John Robert Seeley

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." Winston Churchill

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." Aristotle


Documents A & B (2009)

– Document A –

Martin Luther King recalling the first morning of the Montgomery bus boycott. Fortunately, a bus stop was just five feet from the house. We could observe the opening stages [of the boycott] from our front window. And so we waited. I was in the kitchen, drinking my coffee, when I heard [my wife] Coretta say, “Martin, Martin, come quickly!” I put down my cup and ran toward the living room. As I approached the front window, Coretta pointed joyfully to a slowly moving bus: “Darling, it’s empty!” I could hardly believe what I saw. I knew that the South Jackson line, which runs past our house, carried more Negro passengers than any other line in Montgomery, and that the first bus was usually filled with domestic workers going to their jobs. Would all the other buses follow the pattern that had been set by the first? Eagerly we waited for the next bus. In fifteen minutes it rolled down the street, and like the first it was empty. A third bus appeared, and it too was empty of all but two white passengers. I jumped in my car and, for almost an hour, I cruised down every major street and examined every passing bus. At the peak of the morning traffic, I saw no more than eight Negro passengers. Instead of the 60% co-operation we had hoped for, it was becoming apparent that we had reached almost 100%. A miracle had taken place.

(Clayborne Carson ed., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr., 1998)



– Document B –

Joe Azbell, of the Montgomery Advertiser, reporting from Holt Street, Montgomery, later the same day. As I drove along Cleveland Avenue, en route to the Holt Street Baptist Church, Monday night, I could see Negroes by the dozens forming a file, almost soldierly, on the sidewalk. They were going to the protest meeting at the church. They were silent people, bundled in overcoats, performing what appeared to be a ritual. I parked my automobile a block from the church and noted the time was six forty-five. Already cars were strung out for six or seven blocks in each direction. In fact, the area around the church looked like Cramton Bowl at the Alabama state football game. Except for one thing: these people were stony silent. The passion that fired the meeting was seen as the thousands of voices joined in singing. Then there followed a prayer by a minister. It was interrupted a hundred times by “yeas” and “uhhuhs” and “that’s right”. At several points there was an emotionalism that the ministers on the platform recognized could get out of control. The meeting was much like an old-fashioned revival [religious meeting]. It proved beyond a doubt that there was a discipline among Negroes that many whites had doubted. It was almost a military discipline combined with emotion.

(Stewart Burns ed., Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1997)

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