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4 “They A re Willing to Walk” We shouldn’t give people the illusion that there are no sacrifices in- volved, that it can be ended soon. My intimidations are a small price to pay if victory can be won. We shouldn’t make the illusion that they won’t have to walk. I believe to the bottom of my heart that the ma- jority of Negroes would ostracize us. They are willing to walk. —Martin Luther King Jr., January 30, 1956 Rosa Parks would not be moved. It was Thursday afternoon, and she had just completed a long day’s work as a seamstress in a downtown depart- ment store. When she boarded the bus, Parks located a seat in the first row of the African American section, only to be ordered to move a few minutes later to accommodate a boarding white passenger. As Parks con- tinued to sit, the bus driver got the police involved, who placed her under arrest. Word soon spread around town, and a few were ready to act. They had waited for the day when the city’s bus laws could finally be challenged in court. E. D. Nixon later remembered: “I have told the press time after time that we were doing these things for years before December 1955, but all they want to do is start at December 1 and forget about what hap- pened. They say that Mrs. Parks is the lady that sat down on the bus and then they want to start talking about what happened December 5. But that leaves a whole lot of folks out and ignores a lot of what was done over a long period of time to set the stage.” Those who had “set the stage” in Montgomery did not waste any time seizing the moment. Clifford and Virginia Durr joined Nixon in bailing Parks out of jail. They then went to her apartment, where they talked with Parks and her husband at length about the possibility of making her arrest a constitutional test case of bus segregation. She agreed to move forward legally should she be found 1 guilty in court the following Monday. After a little more than a year in Montgomery, Parks’s arrest thrust 85

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