First Trombone

From Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch. Copyright 1988 by Taylor Branch. Published by Touchstone, $16.00. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Late in the afternoon of Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat on a public city bus to a white passenger. Over the weekend, leaders of the black community organized a bus boycott to begin on Monday morning. On Monday afternoon, December 5, Martin Luther King, Jr., the young pastor of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, was chosen to lead the ongoing boycott and to speak at a mass meeting that evening at the Holt Street Baptist Church. King had less than half an hour to prepare his first political address.