Metro celebrates Transit Fairness Day on the birthday of civil rights icon Rosa Parks

Today is civil rights icon Rosa Parks’ birthday – a day also known as Transit Equity Day. Rosa Parks, of course, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, paving the way for a US Supreme Court to strike down bus segregation.

As a reminder of the continued importance of fairness — the pursuit of fairness is not a finished job — Metro placed a flyer on the front seat of every bus today (see right) commemorating the legacy of Rosa Parks. We also have booths in the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station plaza today offering free face masks, help signing up for our low income (LIFE) discounted fares and food/ free water (photos are here). Pass by if you are in the area.

From the Library of Congress on Rosa Parks:

When Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, she was mentally prepared for the moment. Earlier that summer, she attended a workshop on implementing integration at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. Also around this time, Montgomery’s NAACP was seeking a test case to challenge the constitutionality of Alabama’s state bus segregation laws.

To coincide with her trial on December 5, 1955, the Women’s Political Council launched a one-day citywide bus boycott. That evening, ED Nixon and other black leaders called a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church and voted to extend the bus boycott under the leadership of the new Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). Rosa, released from the Montgomery Fair department store, began riding rides and gaining public support for the boycott and the NAACP.

For three hundred and eighty-one days, African-American citizens of Montgomery walked, carpooled, and took taxis rather than city buses. They endured bad weather, harassment, intimidation and job loss.

On February 1, 1956, the MIA filed a lawsuit, Browder v. Gayle, in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of bus segregation orders. On November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling that bus segregation violated due process and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, leading to the successful end of the bus boycott. bus on December 20, 1956.

If you would like to learn more about Metro’s equity efforts, I encourage you to visit the Equity and Race page of our website. The intro explains well the mission of our Agency in the future:

Metro believes that access to opportunity should be at the center of decision-making regarding investments and public services.

This is particularly true for transport, which is an essential lever to allow this access. Vast disparities between neighborhoods and individuals in LA County limit this access, making opportunities harder to attain for some, whether it be jobs, housing, education, health care, safe environments or other essential principles of thriving and vibrant communities. Investments in transport infrastructure, programs and services must first target those with the greatest mobility needs, in order to improve access to opportunities for all.

The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station is also home to two subway artworks depicting Rosa Parks, as well as a plaque in her honor. Michael Massenburg and Robin Strayhorn newly renovated Paths to Freedom benches have adorned the station since 2002 and the new De La Torre Brothers’ Second line shadow sculptures installed in 2021. Both are spaces of rest and respite where, if you look closely, you can spot Rosa Parks staring back at you. See photos below.

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