"the bus bounced and threw him against the woman sitting beside him. She think cause I color I gonna rape her."

In 1955, bus travel became the focus of the civil rights movement's struggle against racial laws across the USA. The arrest and trial of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white man was understandably used by civil rights organisations to attack that state's laws and highlight the everyday injustices that black people suffered. An attempt had been made earlier to use the arrest of a teenage girl, Claudette Colvin, for the same 'offense' but, when it turned out that she was pregnant, the campaigners had to tread cautiously and wait for a more upstanding example to generate publicity of the issue. A boycott of Montgomery's bus system, led by Martin Luther King, saw people getting around by car sharing, cycle riding or taking taxis with black drivers who dropped their fares to the price of a bus ticket. In 1956, the federal district court ruled that Alabama's bus segregation laws were unconstitutional.

Many regard the arrest of Rosa Parks as the spark that lit the civil rights movement across the USA, setting off a wave of demonstrations, boycotts and actions that carried on through the 1960s. It also inspired similar actions in other countries, notably the Bristol bus boycott  in the UK which arose in 1963 from the refusal of the Bristol Omnibus Company to employ Black or Asian bus crews.