Boycott, an HBO original movie, based on the book “Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott,” edited by Stewart Burns, captures a pivotal episode in American history. Directed by Clark Johnson, this movie illustrates the power, tenacity and unity of the black community. It portrays, through vivid images and compelling scenes, how the people of Montgomery were not just walking, but marching towards equality.
Boycott documents the Montgomery Bus Boycott and shows how significant the event was in changing the laws of the United States. The boycott, which gave birth to the modern Civil Rights Movement, was important because it caught the attention of the entire nation and re-defined the meaning of equality. Lasting 381 days, the Montgomery Bus Boycott ignited the fire that eventually destroyed segregation laws in Alabama.
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks (Iris Little-Thomas) set the tone for determination and strength when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. After Rosa Parks’ arrest, the leaders in Montgomery’s black community saw the incident as an opportunity to eliminate the segregation laws and decided to stage a boycott of the city’s public buses.
What initially began as a one-day boycott to bring attention to Parks’ trial, evolved into a full-scale boycott because of its great success and people found ways to get around without the use of the public bus system.
Boycott shows the many leaders and community powerhouses, such as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jeffrey Wright), Rev. Ralph Abernathy (Terrence Howard), Jo Ann Robinson (C.C.H. Pounder), E.D. Nixon (Reg E. Cathey), Baynard Rustin (Erik Todd Dellums) and Coretta King (Carmen Ejogo), who emerged and kept the boycott going.
The Montgomery bus boycott continued into 1956. On Nov. 13 of that year, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), declaring that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional. The boycott was thus brought to a victorious end.
Boycott is a riveting movie and sheds a lot of light onto the events surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott. With its documentary feel and black and white camera shots, it appears that it was made more for informational purposes and in honor of Black History Month, than for pure entertainment, feeling more like a movie you would watch during history or race class, rather than on HBO.
For many, it may not be what they would like to sit down and watch on a Saturday night, but it is still worth seeing. For history buffs, though, and those who enjoy a bit of learning on the weekends, Boycott was definitely the right movie.
Unlike some movies before it, Boycott focuses on one major action within the Civil Rights Movement, instead of trying to jam several into a two-hour film. Boycott presents an intimate look at the event that changed the Heart of Dixie forever and reminds us to start walking and remember the dream because we still have a long way to go.