On this dayDec 28, 1956

After Boycott Ends, Pregnant Black Woman Shot on Montgomery Bus

From December 1, 1955, until December 20, 1956, black residents of Montgomery, Alabama, boycotted the city bus system to protest their poor treatment on the racially segregated buses. Participants faced threats, violence, and harassment, but were ultimately victorious in December 1956 when the United States Supreme Court ruled bus segregation unconstitutional in Browder v. Gayle.

After the ruling and official repeal of the city's bus segregation policies, the black community returned to integrated buses. But black riders now faced the threat of violence from white residents who resented the boycott and its results. In a terrifying development, snipers began to target the buses soon after integrated riding commenced. On the evening of December 28, 1956, shots were fired into a desegregated bus traveling through an African American neighborhood, and Rosa Jordan, a 22-year-old black woman who was eight months pregnant, was shot in both legs. Ms. Jordan was transported to Oak Street General Hospital, but doctors were hesitant to remove a bullet lodged in her leg for fear that it could spark premature labor. Instead, Ms. Jordan was told she would have to remain in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy.

After the bus driver and passengers were questioned at police headquarters, the bus resumed service. Less than an hour later, near the same neighborhood, the same bus was again targeted by snipers. This time, no one was hit.

These shootings followed two earlier sniper attacks on Montgomery buses that occurred the week before but targeted buses carrying no passengers and resulted in no injuries. On the night of Jordan’s shooting, Montgomery Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers ordered all buses to end service for the night. The following day, three city commissioners met with a bus company official and decided to suspend all night bus service after 5:00 p.m. until after the New Year’s holiday. The curfew policy did not end until January 22, 1957.

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