"Integrated Bus Suggestions"
19 December 1956
On 17 December the Supreme Court rejected city and state appeals
of Browder v. Gayle and ordered Montgomery's buses desegregated.
Three days later, when the court order arrived by mail, the MIA held
two mass meetings to formally call the bus boycott to an end and prepare
for the next day when the protesters returned to the buses. After several
weeks of nonviolent training sessions, King and Glenn Smiley prepared
these guidelines for mass distribution.
This is a historic week because segregattion on buses now been declared
unconstitutional. Within a few days the Supreme Court Mandate will reach
Montgomery and you will be re-boarding integrated buses. This places
upon us all a tremendous responsibility of maintaining, in face of what
could be some unpleasantness, a calm and loving dignity befitting good
citizens and members of our Race. If there is violence in word or deed
it must not be our people who commit it.
For your help and convience the following suggestions are made. Will
you read, study and memorize them so that our non-violent determination
may not be endangered. First, some general suggestions:
1. Not all white people are opposed to integrated buses. Accept goodwill
on the part of many.
2. The whole bus is now for the use of all people. Take
a vacant seat.
3. Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence
in word and action as you enter the bus.
4. Demonstrate the calm dignity of our Montgomery people in your actions.
5. In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior.
6. Remember that this is not a victory for Negroes alone, but for all
Montgomery and the South. Do not boast! Do not brag!
7. Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not
8. Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn
an enemy into a friend.
NOW FOR SOME SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS:
1. The bus driver is in charge of the bus and has been instructed to
obey the law. Assume that he will cooperate in helping you occupy any
2. Do not deliberately sit by a white person, unless there is no other
3. In sitting down by a person, white or colored, say "May I" or "Pardon
me" as you sit. This is a common courtesy.
4. If cursed, do not curse back. If pushed, do not push back. If struck,
do not strike back, but evidence love and goodwill at all times.
5. In case of an incident, talk as little as possible, and always in
a quiet tone. Do not get up from your seat! Report all serious incidents
to the bus driver.
6. For the first few days try to get on the bus with a friend in whose
non-violence you have confidence. You can uphold one another by a glance
or a prayer.
7. If another person is being molested, do not arise to go to his defense,
but pray for the oppressor and use moral and spiritual force to carry
on the struggle for justice.
8. According to your own ability and personality, do not be afraid
to experiment with new and creative techniques for achieving reconciliation
and social change.
9. If you feel you cannot take it, walk for another week or two. We
have confidence in our people. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
THE MONTGOMERY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION
THE REV. M. L. KING, JR., PRESIDENT
THE REV. W. J. POWELL, SECRETARY