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SF lawmaker asks for Rosa Parks seat on Muni buses

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Supervisor Shamann Walton says city buses should dedicate seat to Alabama activist

A Muni trolley passing a Muni bus. Photo by Chris Allan/Shutterstock

Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents District 10, suggested last week that San Francisco buses should each symbolically dedicate a seat to Rosa Parks, the 20th century civil rights activist who defied the law by refusing to surrender her seat to a white rider on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955.

Parks had no relationship with San Francisco, though several local buildings, including an elementary school on O’Farrell Street, are named in her honor.

Walton says he got the idea from a letter written by a 27-year-old frequent Muni rider, which he posted in full on Facebook:

I write to you during Black History Month and during the week of what would have been Rosa Parks’s 106th birthday, to request that SF MUNI set aside a permanent seat at the front of its fleet of busses and trains to honor Rosa Parks and her contribution to equal rights.

More and more transit systems across the country are honoring Ms. Parks in this way. For instance, for the past three days, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District reserved a seat for Ms. Parks in the front of more than 100 busses.

[...] As a person with a painful disability that often has me searching for a seat at the front of the bus, I would rather remain standing and in pain, looking at a seat that honors Ms. Parks, than sit in comfort

“We should be paying homage and honoring Rosa Parks with a permanent seat on Muni,” Walton said, later telling SF Weekly he was “waiting to hear back from SFMTA on how to work towards making this happen.”

The city of San Joaquin symbolically reserved bus seats from February 3 through February 5 to mark Rosa Parks Day on February 4. Walton’s proposal appears to call for a permanent marker.

Parks, who died in 2005 at the age of 92, was an Alabama native. Her arrest for refusing to obey Jim Crow laws demanding that black riders surrender seats to whites kicked off a more than year-long bus boycott that ended in a court ruling forcing desegregation of public transit.