Sixty-one years ago today, Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger while riding on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. Today — at the University of Maryland, College Park — "the first lady of civil rights" has a reserved seat at the front of the bus.
The university’s Department of Transportation Services is honoring the activist and close ally of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Rosa Parks Day with a reserved seat on every university shuttle bus, according to assistant director Anna McLaughlin.
A poster with Parks’ image along with her quote, “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in,” is featured on each of the reserved seats, commemorating the time Parks refused to give up her seat when bus segregation was legal in Alabama.
The university's transportation department has been honoring Parks’ act of civil disobedience as a yearly tradition since 2005, the year she died, said McLaughlin. It's a moment in history that resonates with many people, especially those working in transit.
“Our shuttle system here at the university was started by the Black Student Union ... and it was more of an unofficial students-to-campus thing and it grew out of that," around the 1970s, she said.
"There’s kind of a long and proud history with our shuttle system serving students, and this is something that was very important to them."
While the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive — many students have taken to social media to post pictures of the signs and give the department shoutouts — McLaughlin said there are a few people who get frustrated with the signs, especially when the buses are crowded.
But previous versions of the poster boards honoring Parks took up two seats. This year, it only takes up one, she said.
“In no way do we want this to be an inconvenience to anyone, but it’s a good thing to remember, to think about. It’s a good pause,” she said.