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GRTC changes the way it honors Rosa Parks amid pandemic

Posted at 8:50 AM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 09:43:50-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- GRTC will honor Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks a bit differently in 2020.

Typically GRTC leaves a front seat reserved on December 1 to pay tribute to the day in 1955 that Parks, a Black woman, refused to give up her seat on a segregated Alabama bus to a white passenger.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, GRTC said it needed all bus seats available to ensure proper social distancing among passengers.

“It is most appropriate this year to honor our current passengers in the tradition of celebrating Rosa Parks by ensuring passengers have every seat available. Transit has long been a battleground for Civil Rights and we are committed to preserving transit for our customers who rely on us to get them to work, the grocery store, healthcare, and other essential community services. This has been a difficult year from the multi-faceted challenges presented by the pandemic, economic downtown, and international movement for equity and racial justice. I believe the best way we can honor Rosa Parks’ memory is to save the seat for our current riders today and continue sincere efforts in transportation policy to improve equity in our service," GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm explained in an email.

Instead of the open seat, GRTC will pay tribute in the following ways:

  • Bus Operators will keep bus headlights on all day to represent her light
  • Bus electronic header signs will rotate with a special message honoring Rosa Parks

When Parks died in 2005, at the age of 92, she became the first woman in American history to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.