Buses have been around since the turn of the century. Specifically motor mass-produced buses since 1910 according to wikipedia. Now Rosa Parks did her famous civil action bit in 1955 of refusal to move. While others later appropriated the use of bus to drive change such as Freedom Riders and many others. Was Rosa Parks the first person to use bus to make a non-violent protest using bus as a prop or are/were there any others before her who used it in some different context ?

Similarly were Freedom Riders the first to use the bus to use it as a dialog or others had before no matter what the context.

I want to know if anything "interesting" happened between 1910 - 1955 which was not just about travelling, accidents or robberies/death etc. If not, then they would be the first ones to use buses in the manner that they did.

1 Answer 1


Rosa Parks wasn't even the first woman (or second, or third, or fourth ...) to get arrested for being black and refusing to give up her seat on a bus. She wasn't even the first woman arrested in Alabama for this. There was even a supreme court case over some of those previous arrests (which the NAACP ultimately won) in 1956.

Fighting that particular law was an ongoing thing. In fact, fighting every Jim Crow law was an ongoing thing, going clear back to the establishment of the laws in question.

As for interstate mass transit, not only were there previous incidents on busses to the Freedom Rides, but prior to that when such transit was carried out mostly on trains, they were a primary venue for social action. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Pullmen was a prime mover in the Civil Rights fight from their founding in 1925 until the decline of train passenger traffic in the 1950's. They were instrumental in getting racial discrimination banned in defense contracting and the military in the 1940's. It was a BSCP official who went to India to learn the mechanics of nonviolent resistance from Gandhi, and 7 years later helped teach them Martin Luther King for use in Alabama.

  • @t-e-d can you also comment on freedom riders bit or do you think it needs to be its own question ?
    – shirish
    Dec 28, 2016 at 23:00
  • @shirish - I think the example I gave should be sufficient to show that this kind of thing was constantly going on, pretty much since the establishment of Jim Crow. But if you insist, I suppose I do have a somewhat relevant bit to add in relation to the Freedom Riders... (added).
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 29, 2016 at 0:01
  • @shirish - If I may shill for a minute, Freedom Summer, while about SNCC in 1964 rather than about transit strikes, is IMHO required reading for anyone interested in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. I frankly can't imagine being that heroic myself. SNCC did the rough equivalent of storming Omaha beach.
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 29, 2016 at 0:45

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