Daybreak of Freedom

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Edited by Stewart Burns

392 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 18 illus., 2 maps, notes, bibl.

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4661-2
    Published: October 1997
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6887-9
    Published: January 2012
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8291-7
    Published: January 2012

Buy this Book

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit
The Montgomery bus boycott was a formative moment in twentieth-century history: a harbinger of the African American freedom movement, a springboard for the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., and a crucial step in the struggle to realize the American dream of liberty and equality for all. In Daybreak of Freedom, Stewart Burns presents a groundbreaking documentary history of the boycott. Using an extraordinary array of more than one hundred original documents, he crafts a compelling and comprehensive account of this celebrated year-long protest of racial segregation.

Daybreak of Freedom reverberates with the voices of those closest to the bus boycott, ranging from King and his inner circle, to Jo Ann Robinson and other women leaders who started the protest, to the maids, cooks, and other 'foot soldiers' who carried out the struggle. With a deft narrative hand and editorial touch, Burns weaves their testimony into a riveting story that shows how events in Montgomery pushed the entire nation to keep faith with its stated principles.

About the Author

Stewart Burns, historian and resident fellow at Stanford University and former editor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers, is coeditor of Birth of a New Age, 1955-1956, volume 3 of The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., and author of Social Movements of the 1960s: Searching for Democracy.

For more information about Stewart Burns, visit the Author Page.


“An insightful documentary history of the nation’s most successful nonviolent mass protest. . . . It highlights how ordinary folk, and especially women, led, organized, and sustained the movement.”Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Daybreak of Freedom is a valuable resource for scholars. . . . [It] is a rich documentary history of a crucial episode during the civil rights movement and the coming of age and leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr.”--Florida Historical Quarterly

“A skillfully edited, handsomely designed volume that will be proven useful to anyone interested in the civil rights movement.”--Journal of Southern History

“Scholars who are striving to broaden the context and deepen our understanding of the civil rights movement will appreciate the multiple perspectives in Daybreak of Freedom. . . . [It] is a treasure trove of possibilities for any teacher who uses primary sources, whether in a high school survey or a graduate seminar. Not only are the documents compelling and well organized, but Burns’s editorial explanations are clear and helpful.”--Journal of American History

"This volume succeeds admirably in conveying the faith, fears, anxieties, and determination of the people of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and 1956."--Choice

"Provides an intimate yet thorough analysis of a moment in the Civil Rights Movement."--West Coast Review of Books