From 1949 to 1955, Jo Ann Robinson and the WPC fought against the city of Montgomery on the issue of bus segregation. Robinson had plans to organize a bus boycott in Montgomery long before Rosa Parks’ arrest. Once Parks was wrongfully jailed, Robinson saw the perfect opportunity to make a change in the city of Montgomery. After getting approval from the WPC, Robinson and some of her students went straight to Alabama State University and utilized their mimeograph machine to print over 30,000 leaflets. These leaflets provided African American citizens of Montgomery with information surrounding an upcoming all-day boycott. Robinson and her colleagues worked tirelessly through the night to create and deliver the message to African American neighborhoods all around Montgomery. She and other members of the WPC offered their cars to give rides to those who needed them. On Monday, December 5, 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began with thousands of African Americans protesting and impeding the Montgomery bus lines. The overwhelming success of the boycott, let to a yearlong protest in Montgomery.
Jo Ann Robinson tirelessly worked behind the scenes of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. During the boycott, she was an executive board member of the Montgomery Improvement Association. She worked directly with Martin Luther King Jr. on resolving civil issues in Montgomery. The Montgomery Bus Boycott ended in December of 1956 with the United States Supreme Court ruling bus segregation unconstitutional. Robinson’s work proved instrumental to the success of the Montgomery civil rights movement. She was once arrested and often harassed by local police. Yet for many years, she kept her role in the movement a secret as to not compromise her teaching position at Alabama State University. Jo Ann Robinson is a civil rights hero. Her work may not be well known, but it will always be greatly felt in the context of the Alabama and national civil rights movement.
- Berkhalter, Denise L. "BEHIND THE BOYCOTT." The Crisis, Mar, 2006, 22-23, https://login.ezproxy3.lhl.uab.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/magazines/behind-boycott/docview/199817313/se-2?accountid=8240.
- “Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, April 5, 2018. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/robinson-jo-ann-gibson.
Brody Birdwell is a senior secondary education major with a concentration in social studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After graduation, Brody plans to become a middle school social studies teacher in the Birmingham area. He enjoys spending his free time playing with his cats, reading comic books, studying social studies, and spending time with loved ones.