Jo-Ann Robinson: The Other Heroine Of The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks became an icon of the American civil rights movement for her part in the Montgomery bus boycott. After Parks was arrested for not giving up her bus seat to a white man, an activist named Jo-Ann Robinson stepped in to help galvanize support for the boycott. Robinson's efforts led to a court order that desegregated buses in Montgomery. As part of Tell Me More's Black History Month series, NPR's Amy Ta profiles this educator and civil rights leader.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Now we have another of our series of reflections for Black History Month. Every day this month we're offering the thoughts of our guests or NPR colleagues and they're telling us which figures or events from black history they find most inspiring today. A minute from one of our own.

AMY TA: I'm Amy Ta, editorial assistant for TELL ME MORE.

And one of the people in black history who I remember most is Jo Ann Robinson. She had a prominent role in organizing the Montgomery bus boycotts after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. At the time, Jo Ann Robinson was president of the Women's Political Council in Montgomery.

And because of Robinson, it played a pivotal role in desegregating Alabama's buses. She mimeographed tens of thousands of flyers telling blacks not to ride the bus on December 5th, 1955. During the bus boycott, Robinson volunteered in the carpool system that helped African-Americans get to and from work. It would end only after a court order desegregated the buses.

So, as we ride buses today, getting on and off without hassle, sitting wherever we want, next to whomever we want, we should remember Jo Ann Robinson for the force she was and the powerful influence of women in achieving civil rights.

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MARTIN: That was TELL ME MORE editorial assistant Amy Ta saluting her black history hero, Jo Ann Robinson.

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