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Published: Friday, 12/2/2005

TARTA bus has seat on reserve for Rosa Parks


A new Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority bus will have a front seat "reserved" for Rosa Parks, who is credited with catalyzing the 20th-century civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala.

The transit authority board yesterday passed a resolution marking the 50th anniversary of Mrs. Parks' defiant act. The declaration of "National Transit Tribute to Rosa Parks Day" was part of a state and nationwide observance organized by the American Public Transit Association and its Ohio counterpart, said James Gee, the transit authority's general manager.

Fifty years ago, African-Americans were restricted to the rear sections of public buses in many cities, especially in the South, and could be ordered to surrender even those seats if whites demanded them.

Mrs. Parks' refusal to give up her seat and her resulting arrest were followed by a boycott of the Montgomery bus system that sparked civil rights protests throughout the United States.

The "reserved" front seat will have permanent embroidery honoring Mrs. Parks - who died in her Detroit apartment on Oct. 24 at 92 - but will be available for riders to use when needed, Mr. Gee said.

The bus, to be numbered 300 and one of 10 new buses the transit authority is receiving this month, was open for transit trustees to tour yesterday at the TARTA garage but did not yet have the seat embroidery.

Also during yesterday's meeting, the TARTA board re-elected its president, James Bohn, and elected Jack Murphy vice president. Mr. Murphy succeeds Harry Morell, who retired from the board on Sept. 30 after being a TARTA trustee for 34 of the last 35 years.

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