Browder vs Gayle IntroductionBrowder vs Gayle was a very important court case in black history. After the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1st of 1955 and the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ensued black civil rights leaders were looking for a case that would end racial segregation on buses and set a precedent that the separate but equal doctrine was discriminatory. Browder vs Gayle was this case. On this page is a list of interesting facts about this important court case. Information on this page includes why this case was important, who won the case, and how the decision in Browder vs Gayle effected black history. This information is written in a format that should be useful for kids writing Black History Month reports.
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Browder vs Gayle Court Case Interesting Facts
- Soon after the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott African American civil rights leaders Edgar Nixon, Clifford Durr, Fred Gray, and others began to put together a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of state and local laws regarding bus segregation.
- The civil rights leaders putting together this lawsuit consulted attorneys Robert Carter and future U.S. Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall for legal advice.
- Although Rosa Park's refusal to give her bus seat up to a white passenger resulted in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it was decided by the black leaders involved, not to use her as a plaintiff in the case. This was decided due to the fact that she had been arrested and that a criminal case was not the type of case they felt was ideal for getting the segregation laws ruled unconstitutional.
- Five women, all who had experienced discrimination by Montgomery bus drivers that were enforcing the city's segregation policy, were asked to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit by those putting together the lawsuit. These women were Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Jeanette Reese. Jeanette Reese would later drop out of the case.
- The title of the case, Browder vs Gayle, is named for one of the plaintiffs, Browder, and for Gayle, the mayor of Montgomery Alabama, the defendant.
- This famous case was filed in United States District Court on February 1st of 1956.
- A three-judge District Court panel ruled on June 5th of 1956 that racial segregation on privately operated buses was unconstitutional and that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which requires equal treatment under the law of all citizens.
- Alabama and the city of Montgomery, Alabama appealed the court's decision, but the appeal failed as the United States Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision on November 13th of 1956.
- On December 20th of 1956, a little over a month after the Supreme Court's decision in Browder vs Gayle and 381 days after the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Montgomery buses were desegregated and the boycott came to an end.
- After the Supreme Court's decision in Browder vs Gayle Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at meeting held in the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He stated the decision of the court was "a reaffirmation of the principle that separate facilities are inherently unequal, and that the old Plessy Doctrine of separate but equal is no longer valid, either sociologically or legally".
- The Supreme Courts decision caused violence to break out in many areas of the south; including buses being shot at by snipers.