Why Lextran’s sweet gesture to celebrate Rosa Parks matters so much


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When I got on the bus in front of my apartment on Monday, I took a seat behind Rosa Parks.

Well, the seat reserved for her, anyway. Since then, everyday this week, I have watched Lextran buses throughout Lexington fill with campus-bound students and many of them have to stand while this front-row seat remains empty for a powerful woman’s memory.

So why do it? Why is this gesture so important?

This is one of the sweetest and most important gestures that I think I have every experienced in public transportation. I’m sure there aren’t many people who are unfamiliar with the name Rosa Parks. You know she fought for the rights of people to be treated fairly. You know she fought so black travelers in our country could access seats on buses on a first-come, first-serve basis, rather than being subjected to the discriminatory back seat. And, you likely know she was arrested because she wouldn’t give up her seat to a white man, which spurred on the Montgomery Bus Boycott and eventually led to bus segregation being called unconstitutional. Her name is famous and easily associated with civil rights and black equality.

It’s all classroom knowledge though, which is important but tends to seep to the back of our minds. We know so many things in theory, but never have to confront the reality behind them. They never become real to us in a way that might truly influence our future.

Lextran has found the most amazing way of making UK students and the Lexington community come face to face with our country’s history of blatant racism and discrimination. From Feb. 4 to Feb. 8, the buses in our city will reserve seats for the Civil Rights icon in honor of her Feb. 4 birthday, which falls nicely during Black History Month.

“Rosa Parks’ legacy reminds us that everyone has the power to initiate change,” Lextran General Manager Carrie Butler said in a news release, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader article. “In reserving a seat for her, we honor her bravery and convictions.”

Anytime we get a physical, tangible way to interact with history is a special experience, but this act in our city is just the jolt we need. I hope it reminds all of us of where we’ve been and how far we still have to go.