Metro celebrates Transit Equity Day on the birthday of Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks

Today is the birthday of civil rights icon Rosa Parks — a day that has also become known as Transit Equity Day. Rosa Parks, of course, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, leading the way to a U.S. Supreme Court striking down segregation on buses.

As a reminder of the ongoing importance of equity — pursuing equity is not a job that is finished — Metro has put a flyer on the front seat of every bus today (see at right) commemorating Rosa Parks’ legacy. We also have booths at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station’s plaza today offering free face masks, help signing up for our discounted low-income fares (LIFE) and free food/water (pics are here). Swing by if you’re 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 at that time, the Montgomery NAACP had been looking for a test case to challenge the constitutionality of Alabama state bus segregation laws.

To coincide with her trial on December 5, 1955, the Women’s Political Council initiated a one-day citywide bus boycott. That evening, E. D. Nixon and other black leaders called a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church and voted to extend the bus boycott under the direction of the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). Rosa, discharged from Montgomery Fair department store, began setting up rides and garnering 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 the loss of their jobs.

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

If you would like to learn more about Metro’s efforts on the equity front, I encourage you to visit the Equity & Race page on our website. The intro explains well our Agency’s mission going forward:

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

This is especially true for transportation, which is an essential lever to enabling that access. Vast disparities among neighborhoods and individuals in LA County limit this access, making opportunities harder to reach for some, whether it’s jobs, housing, education, health care, safe environments or other essential tenets of thriving, vibrant communities.  Transportation infrastructure, programs, and service investments must be targeted toward those with the greatest mobility needs first, in order to improve access to opportunity for all.

Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station is also home to two Metro artworks featuring Rosa Parks, as well as a plaque honoring her. Michael Massenburg and Robin Strayhorn’s recently refurbished Pathways to Freedom benches have graced the station since 2002 and the new De La Torre Brothers’ Second Line shade sculptures installed in 2021. Both are spaces of rest and respite where, if you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of Rosa Parks looking back at you. See the pics below.



1 reply

  1. Will there be any commemorative Tap Cards honoring her?

    I heard in a Facebook group about the possibility of Black History & Lunar New Year Tap Cards.