Browder v. Gayle was a federal court case filed in 1956 in the U. S. District Court for the Northern (Montgomery) Division of the Middle District of Alabama. The case challenged segregation within the Montgomery, Alabama, public transportation system. The court ruled that the Montgomery segregation codes were unconstitutional due to their violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. The U. S. Supreme Court later affirmed the District Court's judgment.
Browder v. Gayle, is well known in civil rights history because it brought to public attention a 25-year-old Montgomery, Alabama, minister--Martin Luther King, Jr. As president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, King led the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested. Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on a crowded Montgomery bus in 1955, an incident that became a milestone in civil rights history. Although not a party to the case, Rosa Parks' arrest record and fingerprints are exhibits to the case. The plaintiffs in this case were Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin, and Mary Louise Smith, all of whom had been either arrested for refusing to give up their seats to white passengers or harmed by being forced to comply with segregation codes.
Among those who testified before the court on May 11, 1956, were Aurelia Browder, Mary Louise Smith, and Claudette Colvin.
Records of the District Courts of the United States, 1685-2004, Civil Case Files, Testimony from Aurelia S. Browder et al. v. W. A. Gayle, et al., National Archives at Atlanta.