July 6, 2009
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TANK’s ‘Rosa Parks’ Bus Adds Historic Perspective to Baseball’s Civil Rights Game
For Major League Baseball’s third annual Civil Rights Game on June 20 in Cincinnati, the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) in Fort Wright, KY, participated in an unusual way. To support this game, which honors baseball’s contributions to the struggle for civil rights, TANK sent Bus #209—the same model of bus as the one in Montgomery, AL, on which Rosa Parks refused to move to a seat in the back, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955—to the city’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
For the week preceding the game, visitors to the Freedom Center could board and sit inside this bus daily. Its appearance also coincided with the center’s exhibit, “381 Days: the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” which traces the events surrounding Parks’ historic protest and the beginnings of the non-violent American civil rights movement.
“We are pleased and gratified that TANK made the 1950-era bus, like the one Rosa Parks made famous, available to help the community celebrate the American civil rights movement,” said Donald Murphy, the Freedom Center’s chief executive officer. “TANK graciously put the bus on display in front of the Freedom Center in 2005 to commemorate the passing of Mrs. Parks, and it was enormously popular with our guests. We think it added a poignant element to the festivities leading up to the Civil Rights Game.”
Bus #209, a 1950 model from General Motors, operated in northern Kentucky for the Greenline, TANK’s predecessor system.
The “Rosa Parks” bus eventually was sold and used for a time in Seattle, where TANK found it in 2001, brought it back, and restored it to its original condition. It is one of three historic vehicles that have been refurbished by TANK maintenance employees; the authority uses it for community events and as an educational tool.
“This bus helps young people better understand an earlier time, when segregation divided whites and blacks in nearly every facet of everyday life—including riding the bus,” said TANK Deputy General Manager Andrew Aiello. “Working with the Freedom Center to expose people to this bit of history while so many were in town for the Civil Rights baseball game and related festivities was an honor,” he added.
And by the way, the Chicago White Sox defeated the Cincinnati Reds 10-8 in the game at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, located next to the Freedom Center.