#Civil Rights
Mayor and City Council of Montgomery, Alabama
United States of America

May 8, 2005

Petition for Pardon

We are circulating a petition to have criminal records permanently removed on three women that were illegaly arrested, jailed, charged, and fined for refusing to give up there seats on a city bus and stand so white riders could sit. Those women were Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith-Ware, and Rosa Parks. Ms. Colvin and Mrs. Smith- were also involved in the civil rights case, Browder vs. Gayle, the case that desegregated buses in Montgomery, Al. in 1956. Mrs. Parks arrest helped cement black riders to begin the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

In 1900, a Montgomery city ordinance (overturned) December 21, 1956 was passed to segregate passengers by race. Conductors were given the power to assign seats to accomplish that purpose, however, no passengers would be required to move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available.

Ms.Colvin, Ms. Smith and Mrs. Parks were seating in the section reserved for colored passengers when they were told by white bus drivers to give up their seats for white passengers. They refused and were arrested. They were clearly within their rights and their actions sparked a 381-day boycott of Montgomery's City Line buses. Research from my documentary about the legal protest: Rivers of Change: The Story of Five Unheralded Women and Their Struggle for Justice and Dignity in Montgomery© revealed that white bus drivers broke the law by having those women arrested.

After their arrest, Ms. Colvin, and Ms. Smith joined Mrs. Aurelia Browder and Mrs. Sue McDonald as plaintiffs in federal court to challenge the constitutionality of segregated seating on city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, and America. They were represented by Montgomery Improvement Association lawyers, Charles Langford and Fred Gray, Sr. The case was a direct attack on Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling of 1896, which empowered states to enact racial segregation ordinances. A 3 judge federal panel ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, citing that Montgomery and Alabama's segregation laws violated their 14th amendment rights of "due process and equal justice under the law". The Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the federal court in December 1956 and totally reversed the Plessy ruling of 1896. It was the victory of the plaintiffs (legal protest) aided by the boycott (social protest) that brought an end to the boycott and segregated seating. Because of a legal technicality, Mrs. Parks was not a plaintiff in the federal civil rights lawsuit.

The world knows of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mrs. Parks, but few know about the people that propelled them to such fame and recognition.

We are not asking the Mayor to forgive them for their actions-we honor them for taking a stand, what we are asking for is that he recognize that the
drivers who committed the criminal acts against the women.

Whereas the city ordinance did not require the unseating of colored passengers when they were sitting in the section marked for colored when no
other seats were available and Whereas the Montgomery city ordinance was in
violation of 14th Amendment constitutional Rights of "due process and equal justice under the law",
and Whereas their refusal to abide by segregation laws resulted in their illegal arrest,

We therefore request the Mayor and City Council of Montgomery to grant a FULL PARDON to Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, and Rosa Parks to be
prepared on the fiftieth (50th) Anniversary of the Montgomery Movement.

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The Justice for Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith in Montgomery, Alabama petition to Mayor and City Council of Montgomery, Alabama was written by William Dickerson-Waheed and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.