3 Times Montgomery, Alabama Propelled the Civil Rights Movement
From its historic bus boycotts in the 1950s to its first black mayor elected this week, this is why Montgomery, Alabama is so important to American history.
A new chapter in Montgomery’s history
Steven Reed has just been elected the first black mayor of Montgomery, Alabama — the cradle of the modern civil rights movement. Born and raised in Montgomery, Reed has made history in the state before: the Morehouse grad became the youngest and first black probate judge in Montgomery County in 2012. Notably, Reed was also the first probate judge in the entire state to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2015.
Here are 3 major events in Montgomery from the civil rights movement:
The Montgomery bus boycott: In December 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. It sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott — a nonviolent protest campaign against desegregation to break up the city’s public transit system. Martin Luther King Jr. became a leader of the boycott.
The Freedom Riders Attack - At a bus station on May 20, 1961, a white mob attacked the Freedom Riders — civil rights activists who organized bus trips through the South to protest segregated bus terminals. The event caught international attention, and in the fall of 1961, segregation in interstate transit terminals was prohibited.
Selma to Montgomery marches - On March 21, 1965, Montgomery was the final destination on the 4-day march from Selma, Alabama, organized by nonviolent activists. Martin Luther King, Jr. joined marchers in their fight for black Americans' constitutional right to vote.
In more than 200 years, Montgomery, Ala.—the first capital of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement—has never had a black mayor. That changed Tuesday night, with voters decisively electing county probate judge Steven Reed to office. Reed secured 67 percent of the vote in a runoff election, beating his opponent, local TV station owner David Woods by 16,000 votes, reports CNN. Montgomery is now home to the country’s first memorial to lynching victims, an important and long overdue landmark recognizing America’s brutal history of domestic terrorism against black Americans. To many, Reed’s election marks a new chapter in Montgomery’s history.