Event honors the Civil Rights pioneer on her 109th birthday

VIA Metropolitan Transit is partnering with the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) to celebrate Black History Month with an event designed to educate, inspire, and engage the community in a conversation about diversity, inclusion, and service.

VIA and SAAACAM are hosting a celebration at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17 in the courtyard of La Villita Assembly Hall (401 Villita Street) honoring Rosa Parks, who would have been 109 years old this month. VIA began the tradition of celebrating Mrs. Parks’ birthday in 2019 and is excited to return to an in-person celebration with a new partner.

The event includes a special performance by actress/storyteller Jean Donatto as Rosa Parks and the Reverend Dr. Lemelle Taylor, Pastor of Butler African Methodist Episcopal Church of San Antonio. VIA President and CEO Jeff Arndt, VIA Board Vice Chair Akeem Brown, SAAACAM CEO Deborah Omowale Jarmon also are among featured speakers.

Guests can explore VIA’s fully restored, vintage 1966 GMC Dreamliner bus and enjoy refreshments. The event will be followed by an invitation to tour SAAACAM, where VIA has installed a temporary exhibit highlighting the role of transit in the modern Civil Rights movement, including an interactive replica of the “Rosa Parks Seat” that VIA has installed in all 500 of its buses.

In 2005, VIA began installing a special yellow seat dedicated to the legacy of Rosa Parks in every one of its buses. Today, 510 VIA buses in operation have a Rosa Parks seat to commemorate her life and legacy as a hero of the Civil Rights movement. In 1955, Rosa Parks galvanized the movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. This sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led in part by Martin Luther King Jr. and helped being about desegregation of public spaces, including public transportation.