Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-nlvjk Total loading time: 0.192 Render date: 2022-05-20T23:11:02.815Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Closing Ranks: Montgomery Jews and Civil Rights, 1954–1960

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 1998

CLIVE WEBB
Affiliation:
Department of History, University of Reading, Whiteknights, P.O. Box 218, Reading RG6 6AA

Abstract

The arrest of Rosa Parks on 1 December 1955 provided the spark which ignited the long smouldering resentments of black Montgomerians. For 381 days they waged a boycott of the city bus lines, frustrating the opposition of white authorities and financially crippling the local transit company. More profoundly it resulted in a Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation on public transportation. Equally momentous was the emergence of the man who would serve as the spiritual figurehead of the civil rights movement: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the wake of the Montgomery bus boycott, one national black newspaper acclaimed King as “Alabama's Modern Moses.” Since the darkest days of slavery African-Americans had sought spiritual salvation by comparing their own condition to that of God's Chosen People, the Israelites of the Old Testament. Throughout their years of enslavement they prayed for the Moses who would deliver them from their suffering unto the Promised Land. During the boycott, the black citizens of Montgomery had similarly sustained their morale by singing the old slave spirituals, raising their voices at the nightly mass meetings in rousing renditions of “Go Down Moses, Way Down in Egypt Land.” “As sure as Moses got the children of Israel across the Red Sea,” King exhorted the black community, “we can stick together and win.” Others too drew the analogy between the historical experience of Jews and the contemporary predicament of African-Americans. Looking back on the boycott, white liberal activist Virginia Durr evoked the spectre of Nazi Germany in describing the strength of racist opposition.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Closing Ranks: Montgomery Jews and Civil Rights, 1954–1960
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Closing Ranks: Montgomery Jews and Civil Rights, 1954–1960
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Closing Ranks: Montgomery Jews and Civil Rights, 1954–1960
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *