Wisconsin celebrates Transit Equity Day on Rosa Parks' 109th birthday

NOW: Wisconsin celebrates Transit Equity Day on Rosa Parks’ 109th birthday

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin leaders are celebrating what would have been Rosa Parks' 109th birthday by declaring Feb. 4 Transit Equity Day.

"On this day, we celebrate not only her act of resistance, but the rights for all to have affordable and efficient public transit," 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin Transportation Policy Director Gregg May said.

Roses reserve seats on many area buses, including in Racine, in honor of Parks as people remember her courageous act of refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white man.

"I just want to remind folks that when someone of color was forced to sit in the back of the bus, it wasn't just because, you know, that it was a pride thing or it was, you know, this is where you belong, it was because the toxic fumes of a bus were in the rear of the bus," Sen. Jeff Smith said. 

Parks' refusal to move was monumental for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. That moment still carries great impact today, as state and city leaders fight to provide equitable transit for everyone.

"Ensuring that transit systems are affordable, accessible, and that people of color, economically disadvantaged people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized populations have full access to the benefits of public transit," Smith said. 

Milwaukee County Transit System is awarding three Milwaukee female students with $1,000 scholarships in honor of the civil rights pioneer.

The winners were chosen out of more than 100 essay submissions.

Share this article: