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Pictured from left to right: Hunter, Richards, Boose, and Givhan on the Route 38 bus with Rosa Park's cutout. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News
Pictured from left to right: Hunter, Richards, Boose, and Givhan on the Route 38 bus with Rosa Park's cutout. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News

SEPTA honors Rosa Parks with a reserved seat on the Route 38 bus

A cutout of the civil rights activist will stay on the bus for a week, starting on Friday, Feb. 4.

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For the second year in a row, SEPTA has honored Rosa Parks with the Route 38 bus decorated in roses and a reserved seat inside. The cutout of Parks will stay on the bus from Feb. 4, what would have been her 109th birthday, through Feb. 10. The designation sign on the decorated bus will say ‘Remembering Rosa Parks’ on it for the entire month of February. 

On Feb. 3, SEPTA held an event at its Market Street headquarters to kick off Black History Month with this tribute. The event was led by Faith Boose, SEPTA’s Customer Experience Manager, and the president of Women in Transit. 

“​​If you think a small act of defiance cannot create positive change, please think again,” Leslie Richards, SEPTA CEO, and general manager, said of Parks. 

Parks was arrested on Dec. 1, 1955, after she refused to give up her seat to a white man on an Alabama bus. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and as Richards explained, a movement against discrimination that continues to the present day. 

In her speech, Richards shared that the idea for the event and tribute came from SEPTA employees. “I always say, as Faith lists all the things that we’ve accomplished together, that ‘I might not always come up with the great ideas, but I can recognize a great idea.’ And this one was a truly great idea.”

She also acknowledged how transportation has always been intertwined with race and inequality, as well as how it gives communities access to necessities like healthcare. 

The SEPTA bus decorated for Rosa Parks. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News
The SEPTA bus decorated for Rosa Parks. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News

The third speaker was Carrie Givhan, SEPTA’s first Safety Training Program Specialist, who also serves as its Diversity, Equity, and Belonging Council president. 

“When she refused to move back, she moved the entire country forward. Because of her courage, a more just transportation system emerged. Our nation’s public transportation systems provide reliable, affordable transportation connecting our vulnerable populations and communities of color to access and opportunities,” Givhan said. She also went on to explain how the DEB Council has brought about change at SEPTA. 

The last speaker was Tommika Hunter who read Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb.” The poem’s message of making the country better for those who come after us echoes the work Parks did in her lifetime. 

Hunter read, “...we will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, our blunders become their burden. But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.” 

The event closed with Boose thanking everyone for coming and reminding them to buy a SEPTA calendar. Proceeds from the calendar will go to SEPTA’s frontline workers who decorated the buses featured in the calendar.

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