Black History Month — the annual celebration of the voluminous, and historically overlooked, achievements of Black Americans — begins today.
Throughout February, we’ll use The Source and our social media channels to celebrate the roles that Black Americans have played in transit history and, more broadly, our collective history. After all, transit was the place where Homer Plessy, Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks demanded their civil rights.
Fourteen percent of our riders and 28 percent of our employees identify as Black – and we recognize how important this month is to everyone for so many different reasons. Take it away Transit Security Officer Lt. Nathaniel Brown, who along with other Black employees was asked put some thoughts to video:
As part of Black History Month:
•We’re offering free rides on our buses, trains, bikes and Metro Micro on Transit Equity Day this Saturday, Feb. 4. Transit Equity Day celebrates the birthday of Rosa Parks, who in 1955 refused to give up her seat on a bus because she was Black – a key milestone in the Civil Rights movement. Please see this Source post for more about Transit Equity Day.
•Our new Black History Month commemorative TAP card is available for purchase beginning this Friday, Feb. 3, at Metro Customer Centers and at select TAP vending machines at rail and busway stations. The list of stations is at the bottom of this post — please scroll down.
There are several Black History Month events and exhibits around town that are easily accessible via our system, including:
•The California African American Museum is a very short walk from the E (Expo) Line’s Expo Park/USC Station. The museum has exhibits and programs year-round, as well as a Black History Month celebration of Black farmers, chefs and entrepreneurs at its pop-up Prosperity Market on Feb. 25.
•The Aquarium of the Pacific is hosting its annual African American Festival on Feb. 25. The Aquarium is a about a 10- to 15-minute walk from the A (Blue) Line’s Downtown Long Beach Station, and is near several Long Beach Transit bus lines.
•The 6th Annual Black History Month Festival is at the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Complex on Feb. 19. The complex is adjacent to Dorsey High School and is a short walk from the E Line’s Farmdale or La Brea Stations.
•The Los Angeles Central Library in downtown L.A. has an exhibit on the first Black baseball players to break through to the major leagues — which, of course, started with the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson. The “Barrier Breakers: From Jackie to Pumpsie, 1947-1959” is on display through Feb. 19. The Central Library is two blocks west of the B/D (Red/Purple) Lines’ Pershing Square Station and just one block or less from the J (Silver) Line and many other bus stops.
There are many other events around town — both in-person and virtual — throughout the month. The city of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs’ website has a good list. We recommend using the Transit app to plan your transit trip.
Metro strives to build equity into all our programs and programs. That said, we’d like to point to two key programs:
•Our GoPass offers free rides to K-12 and community college students in L.A. County at participating schools and districts. We want to help students (and their families!) save money traveling to school, work, cultural destinations and to take advantage of our growing transit network. To learn more and check if your school is enrolled in GoPass please click here.
•Our LIFE program provides heavily discounted fares for those who depend on us the most to get around. To learn more, see if you qualify for LIFE and to apply online, please visit https://www.metro.net/riding/life/. We’ve worked hard to make it easier to apply online.
Looking for something to listen to, read or watch while riding? Here are some good episodes involving Black history:
•Metro Art and dublab’s Crenshaw Continuum episode from the Deep Routes podcast series explores the vibrant creative community rooted in the Crenshaw and Leimert Park neighborhoods and the Black artistic experience. Listen here
•Here is our Off Peak podcast featuring Leilia Bailey-Leahy, who in 1971 became the RTD’s first Black woman bus driver and later climbed the executive ranks at RTD and Metro.
•This Metro Library has blog post about Los Angeles Railway (LARy)’s first Black motorman who was actually a “motormanette.” Meet Mrs. Arcola Philpott, pictured at right. Both Philpott and Bailey-Leahy paved the way for Stephanie Wiggins, the first Black female Metro CEO.
•This Metro Library blog post on William Wells, who is believed to be the first Black man to work for a transit agency in L.A. Wells was born a slave in Missouri in 1862.
•Local jazz legend Bobby Bradford’s acclaimed Stealin’ Home — A Jackie Robinson Suite was performed as part of Metro Art Presents Jazz Tracks at Union Station last year. KJAZZ will broadcast the performance at88.1 FM or at kkjz.org on Wednesday, February 1 at 9pm (Pacific Time). The program will also be available for a limited time on KJAZZ’s archive through February 16.
Finally, we want to mention this important fact: 14 percent of our riders and 28 percent of our employees are Black — not surprising in a region that’s diverse as ours. Our African American Employee Association (AAEA) promotes cultural awareness and the enrichment of African American heritage at Metro — and within the communities in which we live and work. Besides helping provide mobility for all, Metro is a wonderfully diverse agency. For those interested in working here and learning more about open positions and benefits, please visit our Careers page.
TAP vending machines distributing Black History Month TAP cards starting Friday, Feb. 3 are below. Be sure to check the electronic header at the top of each TAP machine to see which ones have the cards, which are $2 and available while supplies last.
A Line (Blue)
- Willowbrooks/Rosa Parks
- Pacific Coast Highway
- 103rd Street/Watts Tower
B Line (Red)
- Union Station
- 7th Metro Center
C Line (Green)
- Long Beach Blvd
E Line (Expo)
- Expo Park/USC
- La Cienega/Jefferson
G Line (Orange)
- Pierce College
- Van Nuys
J Line (Silver)
- Harbor Gateway
K Line (Crenshaw)
- Florence/La Brea
- Crenshaw/ Slauson
- Crenshaw/ Vernon
- Crenshaw/ MLK
L Line (Gold)
- Union Station
Categories: Go Metro