At Crozer Seminary, Martin Luther King had learned about India's great leader Mohandas Gandhi , who had shown the world a new way to fight for an idea. Gandhi, like the American writer Henry David Thoreau, believed that unjust laws could be challenged peacefully with something called civil disobedience. Gandhi led millions of Indians in nonviolent boycotts and marches to protest British rule in India. In Montgomery, King now believes that Gandhi's form of protest can be used to overcome the evil of segregation. Along with other leaders in the black community he calls for a complete boycott of the city buses .
Jo Ann Robinson is a college professor and president of the Women's Political Council in Montgomery. She begins to organize the boycott. To show their solidarity she wants blacks not to ride buses on Monday, the day Rosa Parks will be in court. Robinson and some friends stay up most of the night printing leaflets to hand out in church. They say, "We are asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday. Don't ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere."
Sunday morning, in their sermons, Montgomery's black ministers urge everyone to stay off the buses . They know that won't be easy. Those who ride the buses are mostly the poorer citizens. They are people who need to get to work. Some are elderly. It is December, and cold. Some can find rides, but many will have to walk miles. And all fear white violence. It is customary to intimidate black people who try to stand up for their rights .