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Bayard Rustin Explains Car Pools in the Montgomery Bus Boycott

African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin advised Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the Montgomery bus boycott. In this excerpt from his diary, Rustin describes how the city's black residents found ways to get to and from work without using the buses.

February 24 

42,000 Negroes have not ridden the busses since December 5. On December 6, the police began to harass, intimidate, and arrest Negro taxi drivers who were helping get these people to work. It thus became necessary for the Negro leaders to find an alternative--the car pool. 

They set up 23 dispatch centers where people gather to wait for free transportation. This morning Rufus Lewis, director of the pool, invited me to attend the meeting of the drivers. On the way, he explained that there are three methods in addition to the car pool, for moving the Negro population: 

1) Hitch-hiking. 

2) The transportation of servants by white housewives. 

3) Walking. 

Later he introduced me to two men, one of whom has walked 7 miles and the other 14 miles, every day since December 5. 

"The success of the car pool is at the heart of the movement," Lewis said at the meeting." 

It must not be stopped." I wondered what the response of the drivers would be, since 28 of them had just been arrested on charges of conspiring to destroy the bus company. One by one, they pledged that, if necessary, they would be arrested again and again.

Source | Bayard Rustin, "Montgomery Diary," in Stewart Burns, ed., Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 166-167.
Creator | Bayard Rustin
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | Bayard Rustin, “Bayard Rustin Explains Car Pools in the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed February 27, 2024,

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