Events and Happenings 002

   

I went to a conference of the Fellowship of Reconciliation when I was about 20 where I got to know a man named Glenn Smiley.  I met him and talked to him there for a short while.  He was a very interesting man.  He had walked for a year with Ghandi in India, and had been deeply involved with Ghandi’s non-violent techniques. 

 

In the United States of America in the 1960s there was great social unrest which was the culmination of years of bad relationships between what are now called African Americans and the rest of the population.  There were many civil disturbances (sometimes called riots) in various areas of the country.  One very strong advocate of Civil Rights was Martin Luther King.  Glenn Smiley worked with Martin Luther King in the south and was instrumental in Kings’s adaptation of these techniques to the marches and struggles he had in the south.   There was a bus strike in the south that has become famous, and is credited with much of the successes that followed in the south.  I took the following from the net as credited below. 

“Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

On the 1st of December 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks, an African-American seamstress, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for not standing and letting a white bus rider take her seat.

 

It was an "established rule" in the American south (at that time) that African-American riders had to sit at the back of the bus. African-American riders were also expected to surrender their seat to a white bus rider if it was needed.

 

When asked to move to let a white bus rider be seated Mrs. Parks refused. She did not argue and she did not move. The police were called and Mrs. Parks was arrested

 

Mrs. Parks was not the first African-American to be arrested for this "crime." But she was the first to be arrested who was well known in the Montgomery African-American community. She was once the secretary to the president of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. He and other African-American community leaders felt a protest of some kind was needed. A meeting was called and an overflowing crowd came to the church to hear his words. Dr. King told the crowd that the only way they could fight back would be to boycott the bus company.

 

On the morning of Dec. 5, the African-American residents of the city refused to use the buses. Most walked, those few with cars arranged rides for friends and strangers, some even rode mules. Only a very small number of African-Americans rode the bus that day.

 

Dr. King and the other African-American community leaders held another meeting to organize future action. They named their organization the Montgomery Improvement Association and elected Dr. King as its president.

As the boycott continued the white community fought back with terrorism and harassment. The car-pool drivers were arrested for picking up hitchhikers. African-Americans waiting on street corners for a ride were arrested for loitering.

 

On January 30, 1956 Dr. King's home was bombed. His wife and their baby daughter escaped without injury. When Dr. King arrived home he found an angry mob waiting. Dr. King told the crowd to go home. "We must learn to meet hate with love" he said.

 

The boycott continued for over a year. It eventually took the United States Supreme Court to end the boycott. On November 13, 1956 the Court declared that Alabama's state and local laws requiring segregation on buses were illegal. On December 20th federal injunctions were served on the city and bus company officials forcing them to follow the Supreme Court's ruling.

 

The following morning, December 21, 1956, Dr. King and Rev. Glen Smiley, a white minister, shared the front seat of a public bus. The boycott had lasted 381 days. The boycott was a success.

 

UPDATE: Rosa Parks passed away on the evening of October 24th, 2005. She was 92 years old.”    http://www.holidays.net/mlk/rosa.htm

 

After I married Martha and had moved to Detroit, we lived in Pontiac, Michigan, a city just a few miles north of Detroit.  That is the city I worked in.  I met another psychologist there who was African-American, and worked in a different place than I did.  He and his wife and Martha and I spent some time together.  I am not sure of the exact time I knew him, but I am pretty sure it was between 1960 and 1963.  One day he began talking about a preacher who we "had" to go hear.  It turned out that he was talking  about Martin Luther King, Jr.  We went with the two of them to a black church where King was a guest preacher.  He really was a stirring speaker, just as everyone had said.  The sermon centered on the emerging Civil Rights Movement.  Afterward, Dr. King stood at the door and shook hands with everyone as we left.  Although Rosa Parks lived in Detroit, we never met her.

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