Rosa Parks, a 43 year old black seamstress, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, on 5th December 1955 for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The Montgomery Bus rules stated that white people boarding its buses should fill the bus by occupying seats from the front backwards. Coloured people should fill the bus by occupying the seats from the back forwards. If the bus became full additional coloured people boarding the bus would stand but if additional white people boarded the bus coloured people would be expected to give up their seats and stand.
Civil Rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott specifically in protest against Parks’ arrest but also as a protest against the segregation practices used by the bus company.
Parks was found guilty by a court on 5th December and fined but she appealed the court’s decision. Meanwhile the Montgomery Bus boycott was being put into place. Negroes and others who supported equality agreed not to use the buses, a move which would deprive the bus company of 65% of its income.
Although Martin Luther King was fined $500 for interfering with the running of businesses, the protest was successful and on 4th June 1956 the Supreme Court decided, based on the outcome of recent school segregation cases, that bus segregation violated the United States constitution.