chapter  5
20 Pages

Intragroup Behaviour: Processes Within Groups

These quotations come from Martin Luther King Jnr’s autobiographical account of the historic events in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 and 1956 (Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, 1958). Montgomery was the forerunner of the black civil rights movement of the next ten to fifteen years, in which Martin Luther King’s role as figurehead and leader has entered into the annals of history: his magnificently rousing speeches and his single-minded adherence to the Gandhian principles of non-violent protest. In order to draw national attention to segregation and discrimination in Montgomery, the black community, led mainly by King, organized a boycott of Montgomery’s buses (on which there was segregated seating). The battle was not easily won: the activities of the white community coupled with the inclemencies of winter weather took their toll. Yet the boycott persisted for a full year and accomplished its immediate goal: desegregation of the buses. King’s account of the solidarity and cohesiveness of the black community, which was forged by the protest out of factional bickering and dispirited apathy captures many of the themes to be covered in this chapter.