How Long? How Long?: African American Women and the Struggle for Civil Rights

By Belinda Robnett | Go to book overview

FOUR
Sustaining the Momentum of the Movement

Miss Ella Baker and the Origins of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

The Montgomery bus boycott lasted a year and was sustained by local as well as outside resources. On November 13, 1956, the state court of Alabama issued an order declaring car pools illegal. This devastating news proved short-lived, however. On the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that n's segregated transportation laws violated the Constitution of the United States, thrilling the boycotters. They had achieved a monumental victory. Yet that triumph did not propel Black leaders to organize boycotts in other cities throughout the South.

After the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, the members of In Friendship -- Miss Ella Baker, 1 A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and Stanley Levinson -- began to discuss the lack of protest momentum in the South and the possibility of developing a southern-based organization that would challenge the oppressive order. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, designed to protect the constitutional rights of Black voters, voter registration became a priority. It was the first civil rights act to be passed since 1875, and gave the federal government the right to sue a state on behalf of anyone denied his or her legal right to vote. It also established the Civil Rights Commission, which studied the conditions of Black people in the United States. 2 Nevertheless, persuading Black

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