Friday, January 16, 2009

The women behind the Montgomery Bus Boycott & Dr. King

Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey fingerprints Parks ...Image via WikipediaWhen I was young, my mother told me that I would be wise to become some corporate president's executive secretary. "There's always a very smart woman behind a successful man. Many secretaries really run the company."

Instead, I like to think that I've been part of changing things -- that women can be out front more often (but not often enough) these days. But her advice came to mind when I read this article about the ten nonprofits that shaped and supported Dr. King. When I got to #3, reproduced below, I thought, aha! of course!

It takes leaders, up-front and leaders behind the scenes to bring about great change. Here's to the women who made the Montgomery bus boycott possible.

Did You Know...? Ten Nonprofits that Shaped the Life of Martin Luther King Jr. | Blue Avocado: "Which nonprofit was the first to launch the Montgomery bus boycott that ultimately brought Dr. King to prominence?

Women’s Political Council

African American women in Montgomery, Alabama, formed the Women’s Political Council in the mid-1940s. They tried to end bus segregation through advocacy with the local mayor. When that didn’t work, they laid plans for a bus boycott. After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, it was the council that sent out the call for action. Later, much of the boycott organizing was taken over by the Montgomery Improvement Association."
Jan Masoka, who publishes Blue Avocado, shared this background information in her latest newsletter.
Textbooks make it seem as if Rosa Parks just one day decided not to sit at the back of the bus. In fact, of course, many other African American women and men had done just that over the years, only to be thrown off the bus. But when Rosa Parks refused to leave her seat in the front of the bus, she did so having been selected by local nonprofits to spark the carefully-planned boycott of the segregated bus company. Heroes don't act alone: nonprofits support heroes, and heroes understand nonprofits to be platforms for impact, and all are parts of evolving social movements.

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