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6 “Bigger Than Montgomery” They had the vision to see this struggle is bigger than Montgomery. And they have been willing to share me with this nation and with the world. —Martin Luther King Jr., December 5, 1957 In February 1957, King appeared on the cover of Time magazine in a story chronicling the successful conclusion of the Montgomery bus boy- cott. This honor reflected an unintended outcome of the local protest: King became the face for the national struggle for civil rights. He was now one of the most sought-after African American preachers in the na- tion, having delivered keynote addresses at the annual gatherings of both the NAACP and the National Baptist Convention the previous summer. Speaking opportunities flooded his desk. He accepted an invitation from Kwame Nkrumah to attend Ghana’s independence celebration and was in serious discussions to write his memoirs of the boycott. Although his civil rights leadership was born in Montgomery, by early 1957 King had already become bigger than Montgomery. As King’s prominence grew, the local struggle intensified. Once the buses were integrated, a wave of violence swept Montgomery, offering a foretaste of the depths to which some would sink to preserve white supremacy and segregation. By the time the boycott ended, the African American people of Montgomery had secured a major local and national victory. They had stood together to strike a blow against Jim Crow and segregation in their city. In response, a small number of reactionaries un- leashed a wave of violence. During the first ten days of bus integration, five white men assaulted a black woman at a bus stop while snipers fired shots at King’s parsonage and several city buses. Within a week, the city suspended evening bus service in an attempt to curtail the violence. A few weeks later, bombs struck two homes and four churches, demonstrating 147

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