In the Bus Bag
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
Tag Archives: Montgomery Bus Boycott
I’ve been leading a charmed reading life of late. Almost everything I’ve carried in my bus bag for the last year (plus) has been worth its (considerable) weight in gold: informative, compelling, inspiring. But even all this good bus reading didn’t prepare me for my most recent ride read, which absolutely rocked my world.
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, by civil rights scholar Jeanne Theoharis, is the most comprehensive—really, the only—political biography written about my sweet Chicklet‘s namesake. It is the book I would have written myself, had I more impressive credentials and initiative.
My most recent bus read was the autobiography of OG Detroit activist, Grace Lee Boggs. Come to think of it, it was the bus read before last; I finished Home last week. (I’m currently experiencing some rather extreme Toni Morrison withdrawal and am still carrying it around in my bag.)
Among the many things I learned when reading Ms. Boggs’ book is that this amazing song exists.
The current temperature in Montgomery, AL: 39 degrees. (To Bus Nerd’s down-south fam: My condolences.)
It is just now occurring to me how ridiculously courageous it is to start a bus boycott in December.* Shoot, just getting to church (which is only a mile north of us) on foot last Sunday in the pouring, freezing rain was an adventure. Our boycott was accidental (we missed the bus), but, now that our stop has been removed, we have to walk almost a half a mile just to get to a 48. So, bus or no, we’re going to …
Not surprisingly, segregated city buses weren’t Mrs. Parks’ only experience with unequal transportation. During her school years in Pine Level, Alabama, white students were provided with school buses while black children were forced to walk.
“The bus,” she said in an interview, “was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world.”
Certainly, there are remnants of this separation today (including on the bus*), but I am so grateful that Mrs. Parks (and many, many others) sacrificed their livelihoods and personal safety so that …
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the Montgomery Bus Boycott:
During the rush hours the sidewalks were crowded with laborers and domestic workers, many of them well past middle age, trudging patiently to their jobs and home again, sometimes as much as twelve miles. They knew why they walked, and the knowledge was evident in the way they carried themselves. And as I watched them I knew that there is nothing more majestic than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for their courage and dignity.
(Source: Stride Toward Freedom)
I’ve posted this quote before, but …