Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Volume III: Birth of a New Age, December 1955 - December 1956, Chronology

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Date Event


2 Mar Claudette Colvin, 15, is arrested for allegedly violating Montgomery’s ordinance requiring segregation on the city’s buses. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jo Ann Robinson of the Women’s Political Council (WPC), Rosa Parks of the Montgomery NAACP, and others later meet with city and bus company officials.
14 July
In Sarah Mae Flemming v. South Carolina Electric and Gas Company, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the recent Brown v. Board of Education decision applies to segregation on municipal buses.
15 Oct
Montgomery resident Mary Louise Smith is arrested and fined for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger.
7 Nov
The Interstate Commerce Commission rules that segregation on interstate trains and buses and in waiting rooms used by interstate travelers is in violation of the Interstate Commerce Act.
1 Dec
Rosa Parks refuses to vacate her seat and move to the rear of a Montgomery city bus to make way for a white passenger. The driver notifies the police, who arrest Parks for violating city and state ordinances. Parks is released on $100 bond.
2 Dec
Robinson and other WPC members distribute‘ thousands of leaflets calling for a one-day boycott of the city’s buses on Monday, 5 December, the day Parks is to be tried. E. D. Nixon calls King to discuss the arrest of Parks and to arrange for a meeting of black leaders at Dexter that evening. Those present agree to call a citywide meeting on 5 December at Holt Street Baptist Church. King and Ralph Abernathy remain at Dexter after the meeting to mimeograph a redrafted leaflet publicizing the bus boycott and the upcoming mass meeting.
3 Dec
Boycott leaflets are distributed to black residents. Television and radio stations report plans for the Monday boycott and mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church.
4 Dec
Joe Azbell reports on the plans for a boycott in a front-page article, “Negro Groups Ready Boycott of City Lines,” in the Montgomery Advertiser. The city’s black ministers announce the one-day boycott from their pulpits on Sunday morning. King preaches at Dexter on “Why Does God Hide Himself?”
5 Dec
In the morning, King watches empty buses pass by his home, indicating a successful first day of the boycott. Parks pleads not guilty but is convicted and fined $14. Fred D. Gray, her lawyer, appeals the conviction. In the afternoon, eighteen black leaders meet to plan the evening mass meeting. The group organizes itself as the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), agrees to an agenda for the mass meeting, and elects its officers, including King as president. Later, several thousand people gather at Holt Street Baptist Church. King gives the main address. Abernathy presents resolutions, which are adopted resoundingly, recommending that the boycott continue indefinitely. King leaves the mass meeting early to speak at a YMCA father-and-son banquet.
6 Dec King meets with reporters to discuss the MIA demands.
7 Dec
The MIA executive board assembles for the first time to organize its committees. The Alabama Council on Human Relations (ACHR) offers to bring together the opposing factions, including the bus company, city officials, and MIA leaders.
8 Dec
King and other members of the MIA executive board meet for four hours with city officials, representatives of the Montgomery City Lines, and members of the ACHR. The MIA proposes courteous treatment by bus drivers; seating on a first-come, first-served basis, with Negroes seated rear to front, whites front to rear; and employment of Negro bus drivers on predominantly Negro lines. These requests are not approved.
King calls Rev. T. J. Jemison of Baton Rouge, leader of a brief bus boycott in 1953, to ask for advice on transportation alternatives. That night the MIA’s second mass meeting, held at St. John AME Church, approves the establishment of a car pool system as a temporary alternative to the buses.
9 Dec
Montgomery City Lines announces that it will cut bus service to “most Negro districts” effective at 6 P.M. on 10 December. A conference of MIA leaders and bus officials fails to reach a compromise as bus company officials insist that state and city laws require them to enforce segregation.
10 Dec
King and the MIA release a “Statement of Negroes on Bus Situation” suggesting that the bus company could accept MIA’s seating proposal and remain within the law if it so desired.
11 Dec
Ralph W. Riley, president of the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, is the guest speaker at Dexter’s seventy-eighth anniversary services.
12 Dec
At the third MIA mass meeting, held at Bethel Baptist Church, leaders announce that an organized car pool will begin the following day. A letter to the editor, “Lesson from Gandhi,” in the Montgomery Advertiser from a white city librarian, Juliette Morgan, compares the bus boycott to Gandhi’s famous “salt march.”
13 Dec
King, Gray, and Parks meet with W. C. Patton, state field secretary for the NAACP. After a special meeting of the Montgomery NAACP executive committee, Parks authorizes the NAACP to take charge of the legal aspects of her case. In a statement to the press, King suggests that the boycott could last for a year.
15 Dec
Amid reports that Montgomery black taxicab drivers are charging only ten cents per passenger, city officials remind cab operators that the minimum fare is forty-five cents. Montgomery police chief G. J. Ruppenthal orders strict enforcement of a city law prohibiting more than three people in the front seat of passenger cars. King gives a progress report at an MIA mass meeting at First Baptist Church.
16 Dec
K E. Totten, vice president of National City Lines in Chicago, parent company of Montgomery City Lines, meets with Mayor W. A. Gayle, City Commissioner Frank Parks, and Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers.
17 Dec
During a meeting with the city commission and MIA leaders, Totten leaves it up to the citizens of Montgomery to resolve the question of segregation. After the meeting, Mayor Gayle appoints a committee composed of eight black leaders, including King, and eight white leaders to resolve the crisis. The committee deadlocks on a resolution offered by the white members to postpone the boycott until 15 January but agrees to a resolution requesting more courtesy from the bus drivers. The car pool reportedly involves two hundred private cars, more than one hundred taxis, and eight gas stations.
18 Dec King preaches at Dexter.
19 Dec After a contentious two-hour meeting, the mayor’s committee adjourns when Luther Ingalls, secretary of the local Citizens Council, joins the group. King charges that certain white members come to the meetings with “preconceived ideas.” King presides at and addresses an MIA mass meeting at Hutchinson Street Baptist Church.
22 Dec
The MIA executive board agrees to make no concessions on its three basic demands and to hold no further conferences with the city commission and the bus company until they recognize the legitimacy of these demands. An evening MIA mass meeting is held at Mt. Zion AME Zion Church.
25 Dec
The black ministers of Montgomery and their congregations place an advertisement titled “To the Montgomery Public” explaining the boycott in the Sunday edition of the Montgomery Advertiser and the Alabama Journal. King preaches at Dexter on “The Light That Shineth amid Darkness.”
26 Dec
An MIA mass meeting is held at Beulah Baptist Church.
29 Dec
An MIA mass meeting is held at Day Street Baptist Church.
30 Dec Mayor Gayle urges Montgomery citizens to patronize city buses or risk losing the bus company’s business.


1 Jan
King preaches “Our God Is Able” at Dexter.
3 Jan
The Montgomery City Lines tells the city commission that unless fares are doubled it will have to shut down, because it is losing as much as twenty-two cents a mile. The fare increase is approved the following day.
5 Jan
King presides at an MIA mass meeting held at St. John AME Church.
6 Jan
More than one thousand people attend a meeting of the Central Alabama Citizens Council. Police Commissioner Sellers appears at the meeting and announces that he will join the council.
8 Jan
King, Sr., preaches at Dexter, while King, Jr., preaches a sermon titled “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore” at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
9 Jan
King and other MIA leaders meet with the city commission for two hours but resolve nothing. King speaks at an MIA mass meeting at Bethel Baptist Church.
10 Jan
Complying with an Interstate Commerce Commission order to end segregation in airline, railroad, and bus terminals serving interstate passengers, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad removes signs enforcing segregation from all of its Alabama terminals.
11 Jan
At the request of Circuit Solicitor William F. Thetford, Police Commissioner Sellers initiates an investigation of the Montgomery movement. Police Chief Ruppenthal delivers copies of Montgomery city ordinances requiring segregated facilities to managers of bus and train stations.
12 Jan In response to the city’s rejection of its most recent offer to end the boycott, the MIA executive board decides to boycott the buses indefinitely.
14 Jan
Montgomery Advertiser reporter Thomas Johnson interviews King at Dexter for an article scheduled to appear on 19 January.
15 Jan
King preaches at Dexter on “How Do We Believe in a Good God in the Face of Glaring Evil?”
16 Jan
At a mass meeting, King announces that the MIA will hold a general mass meeting every Monday and five meetings every Thursday night in different areas of the city. He reports that he has received threats by telephone.
17 Jan
King leaves Montgomery to attend a session of the National Baptist Convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with his parents. Police Commissioner Sellers asserts that 85 to go percent of Montgomery blacks want to ride the buses but are afraid of violence.
18 Jan
The white members of the biracial mayor’s committee insist that state and local law require segregation but recommend reserved sections for white and black passengers in proportion to the average number of riders of each race. King and other black committee members reject the recommendation.
19 Jan
A Montgomery Advertiser article entitled “The Rev. King Is Boycott Boss” reports that, although King agrees with the NAACP position on the abolishment of segregation, the bus boycott seeks only a “better form of segregation.” An MIA mass meeting is held at King Hill Baptist Church.
21 Jan
After meeting with “a group of prominent Negro ministers,” the city commission announces that the bus situation is resolved. King calls an emergency meeting of the MIA executive board and charges that the statement is unfounded because no MIA leaders were at the meeting. On Saturday night and Sunday morning King and other members of the MIA board announce that the boycott is still on.
22 Jan
King preaches at Dexter on “Redirecting Our Missionary Zeal.”
23 Jan
Mayor Gayle declares that there will be no more discussions with black leaders until the MIA is willing to end the boycott. All three members of the city commission announce that they have joined the local Citizens Council. At a meeting of the MIA executive board King offers his resignation, but it is not accepted. A large crowd attending a mass meeting at Beulah Baptist Church affirms support for the boycott.
24 Jan
Mayor Gayle urges whites to stop offering rides to blacks who work for them. Commissioner Parks receives “dozens” of telephone calls from businessmen who report that they will fire blacks who boycott the buses.
26 Jan
Rufus A. Lewis and four other Montgomery blacks organize a transit company and petition the city commission for a franchise to operate it. King leaves Dexter in his car with a friend and the church secretary. After picking up three others at an MIA station, King is stopped for traveling 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. He is arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and jailed. Abernathy arrives to bail him out; as a crowd gathers at the jail, prison officials escort King out of the jail and drive him back to town. According to King, on this day and the previous two more than one hundred traffic citations are issued to car pool drivers. Later that evening, a group of King’s friends decide to organize protection for him. Seven MIA mass meetings are held to accommodate black residents interested in hearing the story of King’s arrest.
27 Jan
The MIA and other black civic and ministerial organizations publish a statement, “To the Citizens of Montgomery,” in the Montgomery Advertiser declaring that they do not seek to challenge segregation laws but to express dissatisfaction with treatment on city buses. The MIA holds an executive board meeting.According to King’s later account in Stride Toward Freedom, King receives a threatening phone call late in the evening, prompting a spiritual revelation that fills him with strength to carry on in spite of persecution.
28 Jan King is fined $14 by recorder’s court judge Luther H. Waller for speeding.
29 Jan
King speaks at Dexter’s Youth Day Service.
30 Jan
The MIA executive board authorizes Fred D. Gray to file a federal suit challenging segregation on Montgomery buses. At 9:15 P.M., while King is speaking before two thousand congregants at a mass meeting at First Baptist Church, his home is bombed. Coretta Scott King and their  daughter, Yolanda Denise, are not injured. King addresses a large crowd that gathers outside the house, pleading for nonviolence. The city commission promises police protection for King and offers a $500 reward for the capture and conviction of the persons responsible for the bombing. The Kings stay at the home of Dexter deacon J. T. Brooks. Late that night King, Sr., his daughter Christine, son A. D., and Coretta’s father, Obadiah Scott, arrive hoping to convince King and his family to return to Atlanta, but he refuses.
31 Jan
King and four other leaders meet with Alabama governor James E. Folsom to express their lack of confidence in the protection offered by the Montgomery city police. 
1 Feb Gray and Charles D. Langford file a federal district court petition (which becomes Aurelia S. Browder v. William A. Gayle) on behalf of five Montgomery women to enjoin the city commissioners from enforcing segregation on city buses. At the county sheriff’s office, King, Abernathy, and Rev. H. H. Hubbard apply for a permit to allow a night watchman at King’s home to carry a gun. Sheriff Butler denies the permit. Abomb explodes in the yard of Nixon, the MIA treasurer.
2 Feb King and the MIA executive board approve a security patrol at mass meetings and agree to move MIA headquarters from the Alabama Negro Baptist Center to Abernathy’s First Baptist Church. Jeanatta Reese withdraws from the suit filed by Gray and Langford, explaining that she and her husband have been threatened with economic retaliation and violence. King presides at an MIA-NAACP meeting at the Baptist Center.
5 Feb
King preaches at Dexter on “It’s Hard to Be a Christian.”
6 Feb
After several days of demonstrations, white citizens and students riot at the University of Alabama against the court-ordered admission of Autherine Lucy, the first black student
in the school’s history. The university’s board of trustees responds by barring Lucy from attending classes. King speaks at an MIA mass meeting at Day Street Baptist Church. The local Selective Service Board changes Gray’s draft classification from 4-D, an exempt status, to I-A.
8 Feb
In a Montgomery Advertiser article, “Group to Study Possibility of Ending Boycott of Buses,” which reported that the MIA executive board will consider ending the boycott, King says that any recommendations agreed upon by the board would be voted on by a full meeting of the MIA at the next mass meeting.
The MIA executive board meets. King denies that the meeting had been called to discuss the end of the boycott. The Men of Montgomery, a civic group of white businessmen, releases a statement calling for an end to racial tension.
9 Feb In a telegram to President Eisenhower, AFL-CIO president George Meany urges an FBI investigation of violence in Montgomery and elsewhere in Alabama. Abernathy speaks at an MIA mass meeting in King’s absence.
10 Feb
Eleven thousand people attending a Citizens Council rally in Montgomery cheer Mayor Gayle and Police Commissioner Sellers for their support of segregation on Montgomery buses.
11 Feb
King arrives in Chicago for a speaking engagement.
12 Feb
King preaches the anniversary sermon at Shiloh Baptist Church in Chicago.
13 Feb
Judge Eugene Carter directs the Montgomery County grand jury to determine whether the boycott of Montgomery buses violates Alabama’s antiboycott law. While in Chicago, King
and Rev. Owen D. Pelt meet with officials of the United Packinghouse Workers Union to discuss lobbying the Chicago-based parent company of the Montgomery City Lines, the National City Lines.
14 Feb
In a Chicago news conference, King reports that a grand jury is investigating the “legality” of the bus boycott and predicts that several leaders of the Montgomery movement will be indicted. King leaves Chicago by train for Atlanta.
16 Feb
King returns to Montgomery and addresses an MIA mass meeting at First Baptist Church.
18 Feb
Gray is charged by the Montgomery grand jury with “unlawful appearance as an attorney” for representing Reese after she had withdrawn from the suit. King drives to Atlanta, where he releases a statement condemning the grand jury’s actions. King then travels to Nashville for a series of speaking engagements.
19 Feb
At 11 A.M., King gives a sermon entitled “What Is Man?” at Fisk Memorial Chapel in Nashville as part of Fisk University’s Religious Emphasis Week. While in Nashville, King visits Vanderbilt University and concludes that 90 percent of the white students he speaks with are willing to accept integration.
20 Feb
At 11 A.M., King speaks at Nashville’s Public Health Lecture Hall of Meharry Medical College on the “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.” The bus company and the city commission endorse a proposal by the Men of Montgomery that does not meet the MIA's demands. Abernathy reports that the congregants at a mass meeting vote down the proposal by a margin of 3,998 to 2.
21 Feb
At 9:40 A.M., King speaks at Tennessee State University in Nashville on “Going Forward by Going Backward.” The Montgomery grand jury indicts 115 leaders (later reduced to 89) of the Montgomery movement on misdemeanor charges of violating Alabama’s antiboycott law. Bayard Rustin arrives in Montgomery and speaks with Abernathy and Nixon. Late in the evening, King speaks on the telephone with Abernathy about the indictments.
22 Feb
Seventy-five indicted boycott leaders appear at the county jail; they are arrested and released on bond. King flies to Atlanta, where a group of family friends convened by his father fails to dissuade him from returning to Montgomery. In Montgomery, Judge Carter upholds the  conviction of Parks by the recorder’s court. City attorneys move to dismiss the suit that Gray and Langford have taken to federal district court.
23 Feb
King, his father, and family drive to Montgomery. King goes to the county jail, where he is arrested and released on bond. He agrees to plead guilty to the speeding charge filed against him in January. King and other leaders meet with Arthur D. Shores and Peter Hall, Birmingham attorneys sent to Montgomery by the NAACP to assist in defending the indicted leaders. About five thousand people hear King address an evening MIA mass meeting at First Baptist Church.
24 Feb
King and other indicted leaders are arraigned in circuit court and plead not guilty to boycott-related charges. Judge Carter assigns a trial date for the week of 19 March. King and the MIA board designate this day as Montgomery’s Prayer and Pilgrimage Day, on which all supporters walk to work. King and other leaders gather in the evening to discuss nonviolence with Rustin.
26 Feb
King preaches at Dexter on “Faith in Man.” Rustin attends the services and meets with the Kings in the evening.
27 Feb King addresses an MIA meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church. 
28 Feb Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) field secretary Glenn E. Smiley arrives in Montgomery and interviews King.
29 Feb
King and other indicted leaders agree to forgo a trial by jury, allowing Judge Carter to hear their case. In Friendship, a northern group coordinating economic aid for those involved in the southern fight for integration, holds its founding conferencein New York.
1 Mar
Gray files a bill of demurrer in Montgomery Circuit Court charging that the 1921 Alabama antiboycott law used to arrest the bus boycott leaders is unconstitutional. King presides at
and gives opening remarks at an MIA meeting at the Hutchinson Street Baptist Church.
5 Mar King speaks at an MIA meeting at Bethel Baptist Church.
6 Mar
Alabama state legislators introduce strict new racial segregation bills, including one that strengthens segregation on buses and at public events. The Alabama lower house also unanimously approves a resolution urging the Supreme Court to modify its school desegregation decision.
7 Mar
King, Rustin, and William Worthy meet in Birmingham to discuss MIA tactics and strategy.
8 Mar
Gray and Langford amend Browder v. Gayle, removing Reese from the list of plaintiffs.
11 Mar
Kelly Miller Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Nashville, is Youth Day speaker at Dexter.
12 Mar
Ninety-six US. congressmen from eleven southern states issue a “Southern Manifesto,” which declares the Brown decision an abuse of judicial power and pledges to use all lawful means to resist its implementation.
13 Mar
Governor Folsom publicly denounces “mobocracy” and urges Montgomery city officials and black leaders to reach a settlement of the bus boycott.
14 Mar
Eisenhower states at his weekly news conference that he wants a congressional joint commission established to facilitate a meeting of black and white leaders from the South.
18 Mar
King preaches at Dexter on “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious.” On the eve of the trial against boycott leaders, eight thousand people attend prayer meetings in Montgomery to demonstrate their continued support for the boycott.
19 Mar
King, the first of eighty-nine leaders to be tried, appears in a Montgomery courtroom for his four-day trial. In opening remarks at an evening mass meeting at St. John AME Church, King urges the protesters to maintain their morale and declares that “we want no cowards in our crowd.”
20 Mar
The prosecution continues its case against King.
21 Mar
Defense attorneys for King begin their presentation. In a press conference, President Eisenhower urges the South to “show progress” but calls for moderation on both sides of the segregation issue.
22 Mar King testifies at his trial in his own defense. Judge Carter finds him guilty of leading an illegal boycott and sentences him to pay a $500 fine plus court costs or to serve 386 days in jail. The sentence is suspended when King files an appeal and is released on $1,000 bond. Judge Carter orders a continuance in the other cases until final appeals are completed in King’s case. At an evening mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church, King announces that the boycott will continue and that his conviction has not lessened his determination.
23 Mar
King’s attorneys begin the formal appeals process. Gray, speaking in King’s place at the Union Methodist Church in Boston, tells the crowd that Montgomery blacks will not give up.
25 Mar King addresses a congregation of 2,500 people at the Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. The rally, sponsored by the Brooklyn Chapter of the National Association of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, raises more than $4,000 for the MIA.
27 Mar
Alabama attorney general John Patterson files a motion urging dismissal of the Browder v. Gayle federal suit against Montgomery and Alabama transportation segregation laws on the grounds that the case should be heard in a state court first.
28 Mar
The National Deliverance Day of Prayer is observed in cities nationwide as churches and synagogues keep their doors open all day and urge boycott supporters to donate one hour’s worth of pay to the MIA. The Massachusetts legislature suspends activities for an hour in support of the bus boycott.
29 Mar
King presents the opening remarks at an MIA meeting at Hutchinson Street Baptist Church. The Louisville Defender publishes King’s 18 March sermon “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious.”
30 Mar
King announces that the MIA is planning a block-by-block voter registration campaign among Montgomery blacks.
Apr Liberation publishes King's article "Our Struggle."
1 Apr King preaches at Dexter’s Easter Sunday services.
2 Apr
The Montgomery city commissioners deny the MIA’s request for permission to establish and operate a black-operated bus company. King presents the opening remarks at an evening MIA mass meeting at Beulah Baptist Church.
3 Apr
Montgomery City Lines receives permission from the city commissioners to reduce its bus service by another 135 miles.
10 Apr In Birmingham, King speaks to the Baptist Ministers Conference in the morning and to the Birmingham Hungry Club at the YMCA in the afternoon. In the evening, King speaks on “The Negro’s Re-evaluation of his Nature and Destiny” at the Pan-Community Council Annual Forum at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
11 Apr
The Chicago NAACP sponsors an “Hour of Prayer” and rally. Abernathy and Roy Wilkins speak to a Chicago Coliseum audience of five thousand that contributes $2,500 for the MIA.
13 Apr
King speaks before 1,600 people on “The Declaration of Independence and the Negro” at the Chicago Area Conference of Religious Liberals’ Jefferson Day Rally at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.
14 Apr
At the Ohio NAACP’s banquet in Columbus, King criticizes William Faulkner’s call for gradualism in the South.
15 Apr J. Pius Barbour preaches on “Can You Change a Social Order without Violence?” at Dexter. Over the next three days, Barbour gives the Spring Lecture Series in the evenings at Dexter.
16 Apr King delivers the opening remarks at an MIA meeting at First Baptist Church.
17 Apr Black citizens in Capetown, South Africa, boycott the city’s bus lines after the National Transport Commission orders all blacks to sit upstairs on double-decker buses.
20 Apr
King speaks at a mass meeting at Detroit’s Bethel AME Church organized by Jesse Jai McNeil.
22 Apr
King gives the Youth Day sermon at Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.
23 Apr
In Flemming v. South Carolina Electric and Gas Company, the Supreme Court affirms a federal appellate court ruling striking down segregated seating on buses in Columbia, South Carolina, and making segregation on any public transportation illegal. Montgomery City Lines informs its drivers that they can no longer enforce segregation on the city buses, but Mayor Gayle announces that Montgomery will continue to enforce state and city segregation laws. Government officials throughout the South denounce the court’s decision, and C. C. Owen, president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, claims that the ruling does not apply to Alabama. In the evening, King presents the opening remarks at an MIA mass meeting at Dexter. He tells reporters that the boycott will continue until the MIA decides how to react to the court’s ruling.
24 Apr
Bus lines in thirteen southern cities, including Dallas and Richmond, discontinue segregation in response to the Supreme Court ruling, but officials in Alabama and Georgia pledge to resist the ruling. In Montgomery, Police Commissioner Sellers announces that drivers who permit desegregation on their buses will be arrested. After a meeting of the MIA executive board, King announces that there will be no immediate change in strategy and the boycott will continue. In Washington, D.C., seventy-five black leaders convene at a State of the Race Conference to discuss rising racial tensions in the South. A Louisiana judge orders a permanent halt of all NAACP activities in that state.
25 Apr
B. W. Franklin, vice president of National City Lines, announces that the company will stand behind any of its drivers who are arrested for refusing to enforce segregation. Mayor Gayle and Commissioner Sellers imply that they might revoke the franchise or seek a court injunction against Montgomery City Lines if it violates local segregation statutes. Officials at National City Lines inform the MIA that union contract stipulations make it nearly impossible for them to hire black drivers.
26 Apr
King presides and gives a speech at a mass meeting at Day Street Baptist Church, and more than three thousand people vote unanimously to continue the boycott until the city “withdraws its threats to arrest drivers and passengers who violate segregation laws.”
27 Apr
A meeting between Montgomery officials and bus line representatives fails to produce a solution.
29 Apr
King preaches the Sunday service at Dexter on “Fleeing from God.” In the afternoon, he is the Men’s Day speaker at the Hunter’s Chapel AME Zion Church in Tuscaloosa.
30 Apr
King delivers the opening remarks at an MIA mass meeting held at Holt Street Baptist Church.
May FOR’s journal, Fellowship, publishes King’s article “Walk for Freedom.”
1 May
Montgomery city officials file suit in Montgomery Circuit Court asking for a temporary injunction to restrain the bus company from implementing its desegregation policy.
2 May
Attorneys for the Montgomery City Lines file a demurrer in circuit court requesting dismissal of the city’s bill of complaint against the bus company.
9 May Judge Walter B. Jones of the circuit court rules that Montgomery and Alabama segregation laws are constitutional and orders Montgomery City Lines to abandon its new policy of not enforcing segregation. Spokesmen for the bus company announce that the company will comply with the court order.
10 May At an MIA mass meeting leaders circulate a questionnaire assessing community interest in the establishment of an MIA bank.
11 May
A three-judge US. District Court panel hears Browder v. Gayle. Judges Richard Rives, Seybourn Lynne, and Frank M. Johnson, Jr., hear testimony by city and state officials, employees of the bus company, and the four black women plaintiffs.
12 May King, King, Sr., and Abernathy attend a meeting of eighteen leaders of the southern desegregation movement organized by Smiley and FOR on the Morehouse College campus in Atlanta. The U.S. District Court hearing in the case of Browder v. Gayle ends.
13 May King delivers the Mother’s Day sermon at Dexter, speaking on “The Role of the Negro Mother in Preparing Youth for Integration. ”
14 May Eleanor Roosevelt, in her “My Day” column, reports on her meeting with Rosa Parks.
15 May King is in Berkeley, California, to receive a book of recognition and remembrance from the Stiles Hall University YMCA.
17 May
King delivers the sermon “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore” to an audience of ten thousand in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine in observance of the National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving. Later that evening, he speaks on “A Realistic Look at Race Relations” at an NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria celebrating the second anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
18 May
The Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice awards King, in absentia, its John Haynes Holmes-Arthur L. Weatherly Prize for Outstanding Leadership in Social Justice.
19 May
At a Harlem reception organized by the Committee for Better Human Relations, King announces that Montgomery blacks plan to apply for a license to operate an African-American bank.
20 May King gives the Youth Emphasis Day sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Pittsburgh. He remains in that city through 23 May to participate in various activities at the church.
24 May Twenty thousand people attend a civil rights rally in Madison Square Garden to hear Eleanor Roosevelt, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Rabbi Israel Goldstein, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Autherine Lucy. Nixon and Parks represent the MIA at the rally.
26 May Parks addresses a National Council of Negro Women conference in Washington, D.C.
27 May
King preaches at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta for the dedication of its new religious education building.
28 May
King attends the Fisk University commencement, where he receives the first annual Fisk Alumni Award for Distinguished Service. Students at Florida A&M launch a bus boycott in response to the arrest of two female students on 26 May.
29 May
The Florida A&M bus boycott spreads to the city of Tallahassee.
30 May
C. K. Steele and Tallahassee’s Inter-Civic Council confer with the city manager, call for first-come, first-served seating on buses, more courteous treatment, and the hiring of black drivers. Despite the decision by city officials not to prosecute the two Florida A&M students, the bus boycott in Tallahassee gains momentum.
31 May
King offers his “Recommendations” at an MIA executive board meeting.
1 June
Attorney General Patterson obtains a court order banning most NAACP activities in Alabama. The injunction, issued by Judge Jones of the Montgomery Circuit Court, forbids the Alabama NAACP from engaging in fund-raising, collecting dues, and recruiting new members. The NAACP denies Patterson’s charges that it organized the Montgomery bus boycott or employed Lucy to integrate the University of Alabama but says it will abide by the injunction.
4 June
King presides at an MIA mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church, now held only once a week. The Tallahassee City Transit Lines suspends service in the black districts of the city in response to the continuing boycott.
5 June The three-judge U.S. District Court panel rules two-to-one in the case of Browder v. Gayle that segregation on Alabama’s intrastate buses is unconstitutional and gives lawyers for each side two weeks to submit written suggestions on how the formal antisegregation order should be entered. President Owen of the Alabama Public Service Commission announces that the state will appeal the decision. King says the boycott will continue until the antisegregation ruling is implemented. Blacks in Birmingham react to the banning of the NAACP in Alabama by organizing the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, led by Fred Shuttlesworth. In Tallahassee, boycott leaders announce that their goal is now desegregation of the city buses.
6 June
The Kings and the Abernathys leave Montgomery by automobile for a vacation in California, stopping first in Los Angeles.
10 June
King preaches a guest sermon, the first of several, at the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
11 June After publicly charging that MIA leaders have misappropriated funds from the MIA treasury, Fields resigns from his position as secretary of the MIA. The NAACP announces that the organization will take legal steps to dissolve the injunction that bans its operation in Alabama.
12 June The MIA, denying any misuse of organization funds, dismisses Fields’s charges as false.
17 June King cancels a scheduled speaking engagement at the Ward AME Church in Los Angeles in order to return to Montgomery to deal with the Fields crisis. The congregation of Bell Street Baptist Church votes unanimously to remove Fields from its pulpit.
18 June At a mass meeting at Beulah Baptist Church, Fields retracts his allegations about the MIA’s misappropriation of money and apologizes for his attack on MIA leaders. King asks the crowd to forgive Fields for the false charges.
19 June Attorneys for Alabama respond to the antisegregation ruling. Hours later, the federal three-judge panel issues a permanent injunction against segregation on Montgomery city buses, subsequently suspending it for ten days in order to allow appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tallahassee City Transit Lines announces that it will cease operation by I July if the bus boycott does not end.
21 June The Montgomery city commission announces that it will appeal the federal court decision to the Supreme Court.
23 June The first issue of the MIA Newsletter is released, with Robinson as editor.
26 June At a press conference before the opening of the annual NAACP convention in San Francisco, King proposes a student boycott of segregated schools to force compliance with the Brown decision.
27 June King addresses the forty-seventh annual NAACP convention in San Francisco on “The Montgomery Story.”
28 June The Alabama Public Service Commission formally asks the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the federal district court’s 5 June decision to ban segregation on Alabama buses. Montgomery city attorneys join the state’s appeal the following day.
29 June
Montgomery City Lines lays off twenty-one drivers.
30 June
King returns to Montgomery.
Ebony publishes an article entitled “The King Plan for Freedom.”
1 July King receives an Honorable Merit Award in absentia at Detroit’s Panorama of Progress, sponsored by Diggs Enterprises, Inc.
3 July King receives a Citation for Distinguished Christian Service from the National Fraternity Council of Churches, U.S.A., Inc., in Birmingham.
8 July Samuel D. Proctor, president of Virginia Union University, is Men’s Day speaker at Dexter.
11 July A white policeman initially refuses to allow King, his wife, and Robert Williams to pass through the whites-only waiting room of the Montgomery railroad station so they can board their train.
12 July King tells a Race Relations Institute meeting at Fisk University that bus boycotts in Birmingham or Miami are likely to fail for demographic reasons. Attorney General Patterson subpoenas King to appear as a witness in State of Alabama v. NAACP.
17-18 July King, King, Sr., Abernathy, Steele, and Smiley attend a two-day FOR-sponsored workshop stressing nonviolent social protest tactics at Tuskegee Institute.
20 July King addresses an NAACP mass meeting in Washington, D.C.
King’s appeal of his conviction is submitted to the Alabama Court of Appeals.
22 July King is the guest speaker for Men’s Day at New Hope Baptist Church in Niagara Falls, New York.
23 July King addresses executives at the American Baptist Assembly/American Home Mission Agencies Conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin, on the subject of “Non-Aggression Procedures to Interracial Harmony.”
25 July Judge Jones of the Montgomery Circuit Court fines the Alabama NAACP $10,000 and orders the organization to make its records available or face higher fines and suspension of its operations in Alabama.
26 July With King presiding, the MIA executive board concurs with its legal counsel and agrees to wait until the Supreme Court reconvenes in the fall to consider its case challenging Alabama segregation laws, instead of approaching a single Supreme Court justice for an immediate decision.
Redbook publishes the article by William Peters about King entitled “Our Weapon Is Love.”
3 Aug U.S. News and World Report publishes King’s speech made to the annual NAACP convention in San Francisco on 27 June.
5 Aug King gives the main address at the British-American Association of Colored Brothers in Windsor, Ontario.
7 Aug King addresses the National Negro Funeral Directors Association in Cleveland.
11 Aug King testifies before the platform committee of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, recommending a strong civil rights plank in the party platform. That evening, he speaks in Buffalo to the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity on “The Birth of a New Age” and receives an Award of  Honor.
12 Aug King preaches on “Rediscovering Lost Values” at Mount Olivet Baptist Church in New York City. Homer Alexander Jack delivers an address titled “From Gandhi to Montgomery: The Life and Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi” at Dexter.
13 Aug The Alabama NAACP asks the Alabama Supreme Court to lift the ban on its operations and to revoke the fine placed upon it. The request is denied.
23 Aug King addresses the Montgomery chapter of the ACHR.
25 Aug The home of Robert Graetz, the white minister of Trinity Lutheran Church and an MIA executive board member, is bombed.
27 Aug King addresses the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks in Los Angeles and receives the fraternal order’s Elijah P. Lovejoy Award. He and leaders of other black Montgomery civic organizations ask President Eisenhower for a federal investigation of racial violence in Montgomery.
7 Sept King preaches at the seventy-sixth annual National Baptist Convention meeting in Denver on “Paul’s Letter to American Christians.” Coretta Scott King sings and Alberta Williams King plays the organ at the convention. Later, King speaks at a Build Negro Business meeting at Denver’s Zion Baptist Church.
8 Sept Insurance policies on seventeen MIA station wagons are canceled.
9 Sept King preaches the guest sermon at Macedonia Baptist Church in Denver.
12 Sept King accepts an award in absentia from New York’s Afro Arts Theatre.
13 Sept King presides as the MIA executive board creates a special committee to work toward changing “the bitterness or unfavorable attitude” of white citizens.
17 Sept King presents the opening remarks at an MIA mass meeting at First Baptist Church.
18 Sept King and the MIA executive board meet and agree to contact the U. S. Justice Department and the FBI for assistance and protection. King, Graetz, and Robinson are assigned to contact Governor Folsom. Lloyd’s of London’s liability insurance for Christian churches of Montgomery, at $11,000 per car, becomes effective.
25 Sept The MIA’s special committee meets to consider how to create more “wholesome” attitudes among the city’s whites. King says, “We should move from protest to reconciliation.”
27 Sept En route to Hampton, Virginia, King is denied service in the dining room of the Dobbs House restaurant at the Atlanta airport. King then delivers a speech entitled “The Montgomery Story” at Hampton Institute.
30 Sept Coretta Scott King gives a concert at Dexter.
1 Oct
King presides at an MIA mass meeting at Hutchinson Street Baptist Church. This meeting includes a training session in nonviolence led by King as well as the premiere of the FOR-produced film about the bus boycott, Walking for Freedom.
5 Oct King addresses the twenty-first annual convention of the Virginia State NAACP at Petersburg on “Desegregation in the Future.” He stays at the home of Wyatt Tee Walker, pastor of Gillfield Baptist Church.
14 Oct
Arenia C. Mallory of Lexington, Mississippi, speaks at Dexter’s Women’s Day service.
15 Oct King speaks at the Annual Trade Week Rally of the Durham, North Carolina, Business and Professional Chain.
16 Oct King consults with Bayard Rustin at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Later, he delivers an address on “Non-Aggression Procedures to Interracial Harmony” to the New York State Convention of Universalists in Cortland.
18 Oct King addresses the Pennsylvania State Baptist Convention in Harrisburg.
19 Oct Coretta Scott King gives a concert at Chicago’s Olivet Baptist Church.
20 Oct The Tallahassee Inter-Civic Council and twenty-one individual defendants are found guilty of operating a car pool for boycotters.
21 Oct King preaches at Dexter.
24 Oct After attending an executive board meeting, King presents the year-end report at the Dexter annual business meeting.
28 Oct After dinner with former advisor L. Harold DeWolf and his wife in Boston, King delivers “A Realistic Look at Race Relations” at the Ford Hall Forum.
29 Oct King rushes back to Montgomery from Boston after learning of a possible court injunction against the MIA’s car pool and announces that the bus boycott is continuing. The MIA holds simultaneous mass meetings at Mt. Zion and St. John AME Churches.
1 Nov Boycott leaders submit a petition in U.S. District Court for an injunction and a restraining order to block the city commissioners’ move for an injunction against the car pool. Later that night Montgomery city authorities deliver a petition asking Judge Carter of the Montgomery Circuit Court for an injunction to halt the MIA car pool.
2 Nov King delivers an address to the Virginia Teachers Association convention at Virginia Union University in Richmond. In Montgomery, Judge Carter sets a hearing for 13 November. Meanwhile, Judge Johnson of the federal district court denies the motion by MIA legal representatives for an emergency restraining order to prevent city interference with car
pool activity and schedules a hearing on the injunction for 14 November.
4 Nov King preaches ‘‘Paul’s Letter to American Christians” at Dexter.
5 Nov King gives the opening remarks at an MIA mass meeting at First Baptist Church.
8 Nov Coretta Scott King gives a concert in Mobile, Alabama.
11 Nov King is the guest speaker at the Tuskegee Institute Chapel.
13 Nov The U.S. Supreme Court affirms the lower court opinion in Browder v. Gayle declaring Montgomery and Alabama bus segregation laws unconstitutional. Judge Carter grants a temporary injunction halting the MIA car pools.
14 Nov Judge Johnson refuses to forestall enforcement of the state court injunction halting car pool operations. That evening, King speaks at MIA mass meetings at Hutchinson Street Baptist Church and Holt Street Baptist Church, where eight thousand attendees vote unanimously to end the boycott when the court mandate arrives.
17 Nov Thurgood Marshall and three other attorneys ask Supreme Court justice Hugo Black to hasten delivery of the mandate implementing the Supreme Court’s 13 November decision. On 19 November, Black refuses to expedite the order.
18 Nov King is awarded in absentia the Sigma Phi chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity’s Citizen of the Year award at Dexter. King delivers a Men’s Day sermon at Mt. Zion First Baptist
Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
19 Nov King delivers the opening remarks at an MIA mass meeting at Beulah Baptist Church.
1 Dec
Liberation publishes “We Are Still Walking.”
3 Dec At Holt Street Baptist Church, King delivers the opening address, titled “Facing the Challenge of the New Age,” at the MIA’s weeklong Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change.
4 Dec King offers remarks at a public forum held at Bethel Baptist Church, part of the weeklong Institute on Nonviolence.
5 Dec On the first anniversary of the bus boycott, King presides over an institute seminar on “Nonviolence and the Social Gospel.” Coretta Scott King speaks and sings at a “Salute to Montgomery” concert in New York City, sponsored by In Friendship to benefit the MIA and other struggles in the South.
6 Dec In Washington, D.C., King attends an Alpha Phi Alpha executive board meeting and delivers three speeches: “Remember Who You Are,” at a Day of Prayer service at Howard University’s Andrew Rankin Chapel; “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” at the annual Student Christian Association dinner; and “Facing the Challenge of a New Age,” at an NAACP gathering at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church.
7 Dec The Dorie Miller Memorial Foundation in Chicago awards its annual achievement award to King in absentia.
9 Dec King presides and J. H. Jackson gives the address at the closing mass meeting of the Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change at First Baptist Church. Vernon H. Johns preaches at the seventy-ninth anniversary of Dexter.
10 Dec King gives a deposition on an 11 July train station incident with a Montgomery police officer. U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr., meets with thirty-three U.S. district attorneys in a dayiong conference at which he calls for “voluntary compliance” by carriers with the Supreme Court’s 13 November ruling. The Supreme Court delays hearing petitions from Birmingham and the state of Alabama contesting the ruling.
11 Dec King speaks at a United Negro College Fund symposium, “The Negro Southerner Speaks,” at the Hunter College Assembly Hall in New York. He later appears on the NBC radio show “Tex and Jinx” with Carl Rowan.
15 Dec King speaks on “Desegregation and the Future” at the annual meeting of the National Committee for Rural Schools in New York.
17 Dec The U.S. Supreme Court rejects Alabama’s final appeal.
19 Dec Anonymous leaflets are distributed throughout Montgomery’s black community asking residents to rebel against the leadership of the boycott.
20 Dec The Supreme Court bus desegregation mandate arrives at Judge Johnson’s office. U.S. marshals deliver writs of injunction to Montgomery city officials. Judge Jones dissolves his injunction against Montgomery bus integration and rebukes the Supreme Court. Later that day, King presides over MIA meetings at Holt Street Baptist and St. John AME Churches during which attendees vote to end the boycott.
21 Dec Montgomery City Lines resumes full service on all routes. King, Abernathy, Nixon, and Smiley are among the first passengers to seat themselves in the section formerly reserved for whites. The first act of violence involves a black woman who is slapped by a white youth as she leaves a bus.
23 Dec A shotgun blast is fired into the King home. King informs his congregants of the incident at morning services and later speaks at an MIA mass meeting at Hutchinson Street Baptist Church.
24 Dec Several white men beat a fifteen-year-old black woman at a bus stop. Tallahassee’s Inter-Civic Council suspends its bus boycott and attempts to desegregate the city buses. Tallahassee’s city commission directs the bus company to enforce segregation on its buses.
25 Dec In Birmingham, the home of Shuttlesworth is bombed.
26 Dec Two Montgomery buses are targeted by snipers. In Birmingham, Shuttlesworth integrates white sections of buses with two hundred participants. Police arrest more than twenty people for violating segregation laws. At a mass meeting that evening, Birmingham bus protesters vote to continue their activities after Shuttlesworth reads a telegram from King. The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights files a suit in federal court to desegregate Birmingham’s buses. Tallahassee suspends the bus company’s franchise after Steele and others attempt to integrate buses.
28 Dec King is the guest speaker at a town meeting held at the Delta Sigma Theta sorority’s annual national convention in Detroit. He also appears on the United Auto Worker television program “Telescope.” Rosa Jordan, a pregnant black Montgomery resident, is shot while riding a bus. Police Commissioner Sellers orders all bus runs suspended for the rest of the night.
29 Dec King delivers a speech at the Omega Psi Phi fraternity annual convention at Morgan State College in Baltimore and receives its Citizen of the Year award. While there, King meets with Harris Wofford, Stanley Levison, and Rustin. Following four shooting incidents, the Montgomery city commission orders a halt to after-dark bus service for the remainder of the holiday weekend.
31 Dec A Montgomery bus is the target of another sniper attack. Police Commissioner Sellers announces the addition of twenty new officers to the police force.
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