Rosa Parks Takes Front Seat in Lane Transit Observance
Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard
The Lane Transit District will commemorate civil rights activist Rosa Parks on Saturday - and, perhaps, every day, if a bronze statue of the famous bus rider is dedicated next spring at the transit district's downtown Eugene Station.
Parks entered the history books on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. Her subsequent arrest resulted in a yearlong boycott of the bus line, and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation in public transportation was unconstitutional.
Saturday marks the 52nd anniversary of Parks' defiance, and LTD will make note of it by "dedicating" a seat on each of its regular bus routes in Parks' memory.
Each reserved seat - in the front of the bus - will have a placard on it describing Parks' role in the civil rights movement. The district had a similar observance in 2005, just a few weeks after Parks' death at age 92.
But LTD is also exploring a more permanent tribute to Parks that could be dedicated in April - the 10-year anniversary of the district's downtown Eugene Station. The tribute could involve renaming a plaza at the station in Parks' honor, and perhaps commissioning a bronze likeness of her at an estimated cost of $40,000.
The plans are very preliminary but have the enthusiastic support of, among others, LTD board member Greg Evans and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
LTD spokesman Andy Vobora said LTD's participation makes sense because of Parks' historic act on behalf of human rights "and the fact that it happened on a transit vehicle."
Shortly after her death, city of Eugene officials discussed the possibility of renaming a small spur off East Fourth Avenue in Parks' honor, Vobora said. But concerns were voiced that the street might be in too obscure a location, and that a transit-oriented tribute might make better sense, he said.
Evans, who joined the LTD board earlier this year, said he would like to see a dedication in April, which also marks the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. …