After work on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks walked onto a bus that was to take her home that night. She ended up on a trip to jail instead, for refusing to give her seat to a white passenger. The event triggered resistance to bus segregation, the founding of the Montgomery Improvement Association, and the election of the then-unknown Dr. Martin Luther King as its leader. The success of the campaign is an integral battle in our historical retellings of the US African American Civil Rights Movement. Fewer recount the sexual harassment against black women by white men that occurred on these buses, the experience of which motivated those who sustained this movement: black women. While the stated goal and effect of the male-led organization was to desegregate the buses, the women-led grassroots movement had the effect of easing sexual harassment and violence against themselves and delivering the campaign’s ultimate success.

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