MCTS to honor Rosa Parks with open seat on every bus

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs (OAAA) are partnering to honor the life of Rosa Parks and recognize her contribution to the ongoing fight for equality for all.

MCTS will keep a seat open on every bus in the fleet from Sunday, Dec. 1 through Tuesday, Dec. 3. Each reserved seat will include a red rose and a special placard that features Parks' photo and a message about her courageous act.

Nicole Brookshire

"By refusing to give in to racism and oppression, Rosa Parks demonstrated bravery that continues to inspire us more than six decades later,” said Nicole M. Brookshire, executive director of the OAAA. “This tribute serves as a reminder, to the progress made and also the critical work of driving racial equity to confront institutional and systemic racism across Milwaukee County and in the region.”

Parks was arrested on Dece. 1, 1955, after refusing to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her small act of civil disobedience led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation on public transportation.

"Rosa Parks was a trailblazer who was guided by the North Stars of equality, justice and compassion to make our country better and stronger,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “As we commemorate Rosa Parks on our buses, we must remember our own obligations to carry her legacy forward and correct the historical and present injustices in Milwaukee County."

This is the fourth year that MCTS has organized an on-board tribute to Rosa Parks. The annual effort has gained widespread attention on social media and inspired transit agencies across the country to implement similar initiatives.

Donna Brown-Martin

"Every year, we receive an outpouring of support and positive feedback about this important tribute,” said Donna Brown-Martin, director of the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation. “This is a unique opportunity for our bus riders, employees, leaders and other community members to come together to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.”

Earlier this year, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee County Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson joined together in signing a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The resolution builds on Milwaukee County’s efforts to ensure that racial equity is part of the public discourse and the decision-making process.