Agencies nationwide honor Rosa Parks

Milwaukee County Transit System

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs (OAAA) partnered to honor the life of Rosa Parks and recognize her contribution to the ongoing fight for equality and equity for all.

MCTS kept a seat open on every bus in the fleet from Sunday, December 1 through Tuesday, December 3. Each reserved seat included a red rose and a special placard that features Parks’ photo and a message about her courageous act.

“Woman fingerprinted.” Associated Press, [Feb. 22,] 1956. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

“Rosa Parks was a trailblazer who was guided by the North Stars of equality, justice and compassion to make our country better and stronger,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “As we commemorate Rosa Parks on our buses, we must remember our own obligations to carry her legacy forward and correct the historical and present injustices in Milwaukee County. All of us have a responsibility to honor the work of our civil rights leaders, and to do our part to continue, grow and advance our efforts to achieve racial equity and make Milwaukee the healthiest county in Wisconsin.”

Parks was arrested and fined on December 1, 1955, after refusing to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Four days later, in response to Parks’ arrest, a year-long bus boycott began. It ended when the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public transportation was illegal.

“By refusing to give into racism and oppression, Rosa Parks demonstrated bravery that continues to inspire us more than six decades later,” said Nicole M. Brookshire, executive director of the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs. “This tribute serves as a reminder, to the progress made and also the critical work of driving racial equity to confront institutional and systemic racism across Milwaukee County and in the region.”

Earlier in 2019, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee County Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson joined together in signing a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The resolution builds on the County’s efforts to ensure that racial equity is part of the public discourse and the decision-making process.

This is the fourth year that MCTS has organized an on-board tribute to Rosa Parks. The annual effort has gained widespread attention on social media and inspired transit agencies across the country to implement similar initiatives.

“Every year, we receive an outpouring of support and positive feedback about this important tribute,” said Donna Brown-Martin, director of the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation. “This is a unique opportunity for our bus riders, employees, leaders and other community members to come together to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.”

“Woman fingerprinted.” Associated Press, [Feb. 22,] 1956. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

Greater Richmond Transit Company

On the anniversary of an historic Civil Rights movement, the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) also paid special tribute to Rosa Parks on Sunday, December 1. Parks, the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” was honored by GRTC in a fitting tribute by reserving the first passenger seat on every GRTC bus on the anniversary, Sunday, December 1, 2019. Each of these seats had a commemorative sign displayed on them, honoring both Parks’ legacy and her dedication to the Civil Rights Movement. Operators kept bus headlights on all day to represent her light, and the bus electronic header signs rotated with a special message honoring Rosa Parks.

Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She passed away at the age of 92 on October 24, 2005 in Detroit, Michigan, becoming the first woman in American history to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.