LAKE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – The first seat on dozens of Laketran buses will be reserved for civil rights icon Rosa Parks on Friday.
It’s part of a collaboration with the NAACP of Lake County and Laketran to honor the legacy of Parks, whose historic refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger in 1955 helped spark the start of the civil rights movement and eventual desegregation of public busing.
“Remembering our history is important so we don’t repeat the past,” said Laketran CEO Ben Capelle. “It’s sort of a reminder for folks like, ‘hey, you know we can’t lose sight of the progress we’ve made, the progress we still need to make.”‘
Capelle said posters will be displayed on the seats of nearly 40 buses in memory of Parks beginning on her birthday Feb. 4 and remain in public view for one week.
Laketran driver Esker Raimey, who company officials boast has remained accident-free for nearly 35 years, made history of his own when hired. Raimey said he’s benefited from the legacy of Rosa Parks.
“I started back in ’87 as being the first African-American to drive for Laketran,” said Raimey. “I think it’s been a tremendous change not just for us riding the bus but water fountains, bathrooms. That’s totally different today.”
Parks arrest stemming from her refusal to move on the bus triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the first and largest demonstrations against segregation that helped give prominence to young civil rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Laketran display is part of the effort to remember and learn from the past this Black History Month.
“Equity is really important and, you know, it was signified by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the movement she was a big part of and so it’s important for us and the community to remember that was a big moment in time,” said Capelle. “Transportation is something that everyone needs to have access to.”