On December 1, 1955, a black seamstress named Rosa Parks got on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and refused to move when the bus driver told her to give up her seat to a white man.
Her act of quiet defiance prompted African Americans throughout Montgomery to boycott the city buses for more than a year. Eventually it led to a Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.
Sixty-four years later, the Black Lives Matter movement and conversations about white privilege throughout many communities are bringing to the fore the pervasive wound of racial inequality that the United States has still not fully confronted.
But sometimes a symbolic act of reparation shows that things can change. For the second year in a row, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin remembered Rosa Parks by reserving one empty seat on each of its buses in her honor. On each seat lay a red rose and a placard with Parks’s and the story of her resistance.

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • Rosa Parks Bus Seat: Milwaukee County Transit System

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