A Seat for Everyone: A Mobile Bus Exhibit

white bus at the museumBefore the publication of the biography Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Phillip Hoose, Colvin’s story was virtually unknown. Nine months before Rosa Parks’ celebrated act, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to surrender her seat to a white woman aboard a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Dragged by her wrists from the bus and shouting “it’s my constitutional right!” she was jailed.

WMATA 6481King Middle School in Portland and Maine College of Art students, moved by Colvin’s brave defense of Civil Rights, shared Colvin’s story through their artwork. The panels are created for modern bus riders, revealing an important chapter in the history of racial desegregation of U.S. transportation.

Buses were among the most visible “stages” upon which the Civil Rights Movement struggled, with Freedom Rides being staged with African Americans and white Civil Rights activists riding interstate buses into the south to test civil rights rulings.

The same year that Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, D.C. Transit had just ordered new buses. It is fitting that this 1964 Washington, D.C. bus serves as a mobile exhibit about Civil Rights and transportation history.