By BOTWC Staff
In 2018, a network of community organizations, environmental groups, transit rider unions and labor unions decided to create “Transit Equity Day” in celebration of Rosa Parks’ birthday. The day is centered around the simple principle that public transit is a civil right, honoring the iconic activist who refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. Her act of civil disobedience went on to help spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott, where African Americans refused to ride on the city buses in Montgomery, Alabama for 381 days.
Now, every year on February 4th, transit companies honor Parks’ sacrifice by highlighting her legacy and bringing attention to the need for free or affordable “high quality public transportation” for all. The efforts include reserving a front seat on public transportation in Parks’ memory and are a part of a broader commitment to advocating for clean/renewable energy, worker and civil rights, and a divestment from privately funded public resources and infrastructure.
Transit systems across the country are taking the day to honor Parks and keep her spirit of activism alive in their own ways, offering free ride fares, hosting rallies and launching riders unions in their respective cities, advocating for new bus shelters, and amplifying the message of transit spaces being safe for all community members.
Lane Transit District (LTD) in Oregon took to their site to encourage riders going in and out of the Rosa Parks Plaza at Eugene Station to take a moment to acknowledge the statue of the civil rights icon. LTD says it was Parks’ “quiet courage” that bolstered the conversation around equity and inclusion and it’s important that everyone honors her by engaging the community around issues of dignity, equity and inclusion.
“Rosa Parks watches over every LTD bus and passengers that enter and exit the Eugene Station. Her statue reminds everyone that LTD buses, our stations and bus stops are welcoming and safe for all community members regardless of their race, national origin, religion, ability, sex, gender identity, or age,” said Mark Johnson, LTD Interim General Manager.
Happy Birthday to ancestor, Rosa Parks! May we all continue to honor her sacrifice and courageous spirit.
Photo Courtesy of Lane Transit District