Youth & Family

Singing An Important Story: The Montgomery Bus Boycott

By January 12, 2021 January 14th, 2021 No Comments

A Story-Song about the Montgomery Bus Boycott

~~~created by Audrey Kindred
Reflections from readers are invited!!!  You may reach out to YoungEthicalExplorers@gmail.com.
Many people have grown up learning the quintessential story of the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. King’s dream and Rosa Parks being tired on a bus. We often learn mythologies of real stories, watered down and curated for ease.  As Americans reclaim history through first hand accounts that can inform more complete understandings, it is stunning to detect the mythologies and fill in the holes. This is an ongoing process and an essential one — making history more accurate, more vivid, and more human.  Below, is my attempt to share a version of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, as I’ve come to understand it. This updated version features teen-activist Claudette Colvin.

 

Philip Hoose & Claudette Colvin

A biography of Claudette Colvin,  Twice Toward Justice, was written for young readers in 2009, by Phillip Hoose. Written in dialogue with Claudette Colvin herself, it contextualizes and informs the Montgomery Bus story.  I am so thankful he chose to tell this important and oft-untold story that took place as an essential seedling of the Civil Rights Movement.  Not only does it offer corrective history, but it shows how young people make a difference, often invisible but absolutely essential.  Finally, it exposes a broader lesson about how history lives — it lives through the stories that are TOLD!
Intention:  The song below, sung to the tune of Wheels on the Bus, is a tool for conveying a more accurate and universally accessible account of the important and intense historical story about racial justice, The Montgomery Bus Boycott in the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement.
Action Note:  You (or your class or group or family) can spontaneously gesture-drama this song,  as one would with the traditional version of Wheels on the Bus.  It is a resource for both young and fluent readers, and a perfect print-up for  grade-level learning, in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day.
Lyrics Note:   The bold words get repeated 3 times.
                             Play with the syllables until they fit… it will work out just fine!
                             Stick with it to the end~ or do it in three “chapters” as labeled here.

CHAPTER 1

People worked together in the Civil Rights Movement
People worked together in the Civil Rights Movement
to make the world a better place.  
*
This story teaches us to stand up for justice.
This story teaches us to stand up for justice.
So our world can be more FAIR.
*
This story happened several decades ago.
This story happened several decades ago.
The year was 1955.
*
The wheels on the bus went round and round
The wheels on the bus went round and round
Way back when, in Montgomery town.
*
Old rules on this bus let some folks sit,
Old rules on this bus let some folks sit,
…if the color of their skin was light.
*
Judging people by their color is PREJUDICE
Judging people by their color is prejudice.
Whether their skin is dark or light.
*
Those rules were unfair and wrong
Those rules were unfair and wrong…
This song tells how things can change.
*
Separating people by the color of their skin
Separating people by the color of their skin
Was a rule called SEGREGATION.
*
People protested, saying “Change those rules!”
People protested saying “Change those rules!”
But they were punished for breaking the law.
*

CHAPTER 2

*
A brave teen bus-rider named Claudette Colvin
A brave teen bus-rider named Claudette Colvin
Sat though she was Black.
*
Claudette was grabbed and locked in jail.
Claudette was grabbed and locked in jail,
Lawyer FRED GRAY came to help.
*
Fred Grey was a determined young lawyer
Fred Grey was a determined young lawyer
from The N, A, A, C, P
(note:  NAACP:  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
*
The N, A, A, C, P supported civil rights.
The N, A, A, C, P supported civil rights
Equality for all
*
That’s where Claudette met Rosa Parks.
That’s where Claudette met Rosa Parks
An activist who led a Youth Group.
*
Claudette’s courage inspired Rosa Parks
Claudette’s courage inspired Rosa Parks,
She said,”Come speak to other youth.”
*
“Tell them,” said Rosa, “How you sat on the bus!”
“Tell them,” said Rosa, “How you sat on the bus,
And also tell them WHY!”
*

 

                 ~~~(Quote below from Claudette Colvin:)~~~

“With Sojourner Truth on one shoulder

From statue of Sojourner Truth

and Harriet Tubman  on the other shoulder,

I just could NOT get up!

History had me glued to the seat”

CHAPTER 3

Statue of Harriet Tubman

*
Nine months later, Rosa sparked change
Nine months later,  Rosa sparked change
By getting arrested on the Montgomery bus.
*
On the bus, Rosa said, “I’ll sit right down”
Rosa Parks said,  “I’ll sit right down.
I won’t give up my seat!”
*
The driver on the bus said “You must obey the rules.”
The driver on the bus said “You must obey the rules.
Yes, even if the rules are unfair.”
*
Rosa Parks said,  “I’m tired of one thing.
Rosa Park sai  “I’m tired of one thing
I’m tired of giving in!”
*
The Policeman said, “We’re taking you to jail.”
The Policeman said “We’re taking you to jail,
For refusing to give up your seat!”
*
Towns people said “The rules are unfair!
Towns people said “The rules are unfair!

Dr. King

 RACIST laws need to change!”
*
“To stand up for justice, we’ll walk instead
To stand up for justice,  we’ll walk instead
Of taking a racist ride.”
*
A young leader named Dr. Martin Luther King
A young leader named Martin Luther King, Jr.
Led with values of NON-VIOLENCE.
*
The wheels on the bus went round and round
The wheels on the bus went round and round
but people walked and walked.
*
The manager of the bus said “We’re loosing money!”
The manager of the bus said “We’re loosing money!
Since people won’t ride our bus.”
*
The people of the town said “Change those rules
The people of the town said “Change those rules
Then we’ll ride your bus”
*
They walked in the winter, spring, summer and fall,
They walked in the winter, spring, summer and fall,
They walked for over a year.

Lawyer Fred Gray

*
They also carpooled to help one another.
They also carpooled to help one another
“Let’s BOYCOTT that bus!”
*
Fred Gray said, “This is UNCONSTITUTIONAL”
Fred Gray said “This is UNCONSTITUTIONAL”
In the United States Supreme Court.
*
He asked Claudette to TESTIFY
He asked Claudette to testify
In the case of “Browder vs. Gayle”
*
Claudette’s story was one of four
Claudette’s story was one of four
That changed the Laws of the Land!

Aurelia Browder, Claudette Colvin, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith

*
Now, the wheels on the bus go round and round
Now, the wheels on the bus go round and round
 Equal rides for everyone! 

*

Dr. Martin Luther King shared a dream for the future

Dr. Martin Luther King shared a dream for the future

A dream of RACIAL HARMONY .

 

*
“I have a dream” of equality for all.
“I have a dream” of equality for all.
Let’s protest with our Love.
*

Standing up for fairness, we’re not alone

Standing up for fairness, we’re not alone.

Share your portraits of Civil Rights Heros with us at youngETHICALexplorers@gmail.com

JUSTICE is on our side!

*
Like Dr. King said, “The content of your character”
Like Dr. King said, “The content of your character”
Is how one must be judged.
*
Let’s all do our best for humanity
Let’s all do our best for humanity
Brothers and Sisters, are we all!
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