Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Brief History of the Montgomery Bus Boycott - The Spark Which Began the Modern Civil Rights Movement

This is a wonderful piece of American and civil rights history.  Below is a description, written by my friend David Abzell, of his father's role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Both David and his father Joe were Press Secretary's (in different era's) to Alabama Governor George C. Wallace.  Joe was City Editor of the Montgomery Advertiser at the time of the boycott (December 1955).  Again, this is quite a piece of history:


David Abzell:  "The man who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott 60 years ago this month was Edgar Daniel “E.D.” Nixon, a black Pullman car porter who led the local chapter of the NAACP. Rosa Parks was the secretary of the NAACP and was personally picked by Nixon to undergo arrest and serve as the plaintiff in the test case regarding bus segregation laws. Nixon also tapped a young minister named Martin Luther King to serve as the spokesman for the Boycott.
On the eve of the Boycott, Nixon called my father, Joe, who was city editor of the Montgomery Advertiser and a long-time friend, and said he had a “big story” for him. Dad would write the very first article about the impending Bus Boycott using the information that Nixon supplied to him, but in order to protect his friend from retribution from the city's leaders, my father attributed the source to an unnamed white woman who got a tip from her black maid.
Dad would serve as a pallbearer for Nixon when he died in 1987. One of my prized possessions is this photo that E.D. Nixon signed for my father with the inscription, “Joe Azbell did more for blacks than any white man in America.”


Below is a short clip (10 minutes) from a documentary of the events and the players surrounding the boycott.  Mrs. Parks, Mr. Nixon, and Joe Abzell are prominently featured in the video. (The video must be viewed on youtube. After clicking on the arrow center screen, click on the youtube icon in the lower right corner of the screen and you will be directed to it).

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