Interview with Jo Ann Robinson
QUESTION 31
LLEW SMITH:

AT THAT MOMENT THOUGH, WHAT HAD YOU WON?

Jo Ann Robinson:

We had won self respect. We had won a feeling that we had achieved, had accomplished. We had, we had, we felt that we were somebody, that somebody had to listen to us, that we had forced the white man to give what we knew was a part of our own citizenship, and so we had won that. And if you have never had the feeling to feel that this is not the other man's country and you are an alien in it, but that this is your country too, then you don't know what I'm talking about. But it is a, a hilarious feeling that just goes all over you that makes you feel that America is a great country and we're going to do more to make it greater.**

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

This is wild sound. Mrs. Robinson.

Jo Ann Robinson:

Well, there have been, leading up to the boycott, there have been more than fourteen cases that really reached the hearts of all of the people of Montgomery that wherein bus drivers have made people get up off the buses for whites and if they didn't get up they were arrested. But two particular instances was that there were two children, a brother and sister, ten and twelve, who had been brought up in an integrated situation who were on the bus and when the bus driver invited them to get up and said things to them that he shouldn't have said, the kids didn't even know what he was talking about. The police were called, those two kids were arrested, put in jail, they had their trial and they had to pay a heavy fine. There was a woman who got on the bus with twins, one in each arm, she had put her babies on the front seat to get her money out of her purse, and the bus driver in anger yelled, "Get those black dirty brats off of that seat." And then lines—they bust forward and threw those kids in the aisle so that the mother and the children both got off the bus. Those were just two of the instances that helped to infuriate, but then was a case of a Mr. Brooks who had had a drink too many, and got on the bus. And the bus driver said something to it, and he was brave enough to say it back. The bus driver called the police, and they killed that man right there on that bus. There were many situations of that kind where people were arrested and had to pay heavy fines. One woman in particular who was arrested and because she refused to get up off the seat and she said quite a few things to the bus driver. So he told her to get off the bus. She pay a fare, a second fare. The woman refused to pay the fare because she had had a transfer, and that was her fare. So when she got off the bus, the bus driver got out behind her, and beat her up right there at the, at the bus station and then called the police. So when the police were called that woman was arrested, put in jail, and they had a trial, and she had to pay fifty-two dollars for disorderly conduct just for defending herself.

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

Second take wild.

Jo Ann Robinson:

Monday morning, December the 5th, 1955, I shall never forget because many of us had not gone to bed that night. It was a day of the boycott. We had been up waiting for the first buses to pass to see if any riders were on the buses. It was a cold morning, cloudy, there was a threat of rain, and we were afraid that if it rained the people would get on the bus. But as the buses began to roll, and there were one or two on some of them, none on some of them, then we began to realize that the people were cooperating and that they were going to stay off the bus that first day. I would like to say that what helped us to keep them off too was that the police department had decided that they would put a police on a motorcycle with a white cap who would accompany the buses and any of the blacks who wanted to get on. They would help them to get on without what they call "the goon squads" keeping them from riding. And that helped out the cause because those few blacks who were going to ride were afraid that the police who were following the buses would hurt them more than if they did ride. So they didn't ride, and as a result of it I would say that less than, well a very negligible number of riders rode that first day.