Jo Ann Robinson was perhaps the individual most instrumental in planning and publicizing the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, proposing the idea more than a year before it was implemented. When Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, Robinson and others saw their opportunity to take action. She immediately authored the text of a flyer calling for African Americans to boycott city buses. That night she and three others mimeographed thousands of flyers calling for a one-day boycott to start the following Monday, December 5, and distributed them throughout the city.
The success of the boycott convinced local civil rights leaders that it should continue until conditions improved. That evening they formed the Montgomery Improvement Association to oversee the boycott, with a young Martin Luther King Jr. serving as its president.
Robinson was active in the Montgomery Improvement Association as well as the Women’s Political Council and was an English professor at Alabama State College, now Alabama State University.