TARC Saves a Seat for Black History Month, Partners with the Louisville Free Public Library to Celebrate Historic African American Leaders

February 1, 2024

TARC celebrates those who have fought to make public transportation in our community and nation a more equitable place. 

Throughout February, TARC is saving a seat on every bus in its fleet to honor Rosa Parks and her contribution to the civil rights movement. Each seat will feature a sign reminding passengers of how Parks changed history on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Additionally, in partnership with the Louisville Free Public Library—TARC’s 2023 Design-a-Bus partner—QR Codes will be placed inside every bus directing passengers to various book collections (including audio versions) on Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders.

Book collection links:

TARC will also be highlighting important Black leadership from within the TARC agency through the month of February. To see these highlights and more, search #SaveaSeat on TARC social media.

“Rosa Parks’ dedication to freedom, equality, and justice is an example for us all to follow,” said Interim Executive Director Ozzy Gibson. “I’m proud TARC and public transit agencies from around the country continue to honor a historic moment that all began on a city bus.” 

“Whether we realize it or not, history constantly surrounds us. This small act of keeping a seat saved is a creative way to celebrate the courage of Rosa Parks and inspire others to stand up for what is right,” said Library Director Lee Burchfield. “I’m delighted the Library can provide an opportunity for people to learn more about this pivotal moment in our history.”

Rosa Park’s refusal to surrender her seat to a white male passenger led to her arrest and triggered a wave of protests in Montgomery and communities throughout the South. Black residents of Montgomery led a boycott of the city bus line that lasted more than a year. Thousands took part in additional protests such as sit-ins, eat-ins, swim-ins, and similar causes to demand equal rights for all people. Parks’ quiet courageous act changed the course of American history.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat, and move to the back of the bus. For not giving her seat to a white passenger, Parks is arrested.

Claudette Colvin
8 months before Rosa Parks, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin is arrested for allegedly being in violation of Montgomery, Alabama’s ordinance requiring segregation on buses.

Fred Gray
Lawyer Fred Gray defended both Colvin, and Parks in their cases against the state of Alabama. He filed the petition that eventually ruled segregation on public transportation unconstitutional. 

To learn more about Parks, Colvin, Gray, and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts:

Irene Morgan
While riding a bus from Gloucester, Virginia back to her home of Baltimore, a bus driver demanded that Irene relinquish her seat to a white couple. She refused, and was arrested. Her case rose to the Supreme Court, who ruled that segregation violated the constitution’s protection of interstate commerce. The case was a catalyst for further Civil Rights rulings.

Robert and Samuel Fox, Horace Pearce
The Fox brothers, and their business partner Horace Pearce, helped end segregation on Louisville streetcar’s by refusing to get off the Central Passenger Company’s streetcars. As a result of their protest, Black Louisvillians were able to ride streetcars without restriction.

To learn more about the Fox brothers, and Horace Pearce:

Alyce French Johnson
A native of Louisville, Alyce French Johnson began her career at TARC in 1977 as a Customer Service Representative. During her employment at TARC, Alyce also served as a Coach Operator, and the Director of Transportation. She retired from her position of Assistant Executive Director at TARC on September 1, 2016. At her retirement, TARC recognized Alyce’s almost 40 years of service to the company by naming the training center in her honor. During her years at TARC, Alyce had the distinct honor of being elected by her coworkers to represent them as union business manager and union president.