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Sound Transit: Honoring the Legacy of Rosa Parks

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks was born on Feb. 4, 1913.

Today, we celebrate Transit Equity Day – a national day of action to commemorate Parks’ birthday and declare that public transit is a civil right.

She was a giant of a woman, but she had such a humble way of doing her work.

Many know the story of Rosa Parks: she was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus – sparking a successful boycott to demand an end to segregation in the Montgomery, Alabama transit system.

She became famous for that her act of defiance on Dec. 1, 1955, though she continued her work in civil rights education and advocacy throughout her life.

When she was 83 years old, Parks embarked on a 40-city tour that lasted 381 days – the same length of time as the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Seattle was one stop on the tour, and Sound Transit Chief Labor Relations Officer Leslie Jones had a chance to meet Parks while she was in town.

A rectangle photo in a thick black wooden frame sits on a wooden surface. The photo is of three African American individuals sitting on a couch, two women on the right and a man on the left.
Sound Transit Chief Labor Relations Officer Leslie Jones (right) keeps a photograph in her office of when she and her husband met Rosa Parks. | source: Sound Transit

Jones said she was “humbled and thrilled” later in her career to receive several awards named after the “mother of civil rights.”

“One of the things I learned from Rosa Louise McCauley Parks is that we cannot let fear stop us from doing the right thing,” she said. “We have to identify what is right and what is not acceptable. And we saw that by way of all of the people who got into the streets for George Floyd.”

Shortly after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery last summer, Sound Transit committed to continuing our work on equity and inclusion, and to becoming an anti-racist organization.

“We have to stand up for ourselves and for each other, and for the world we want to live in,” Jones said.

Sound Transit recently launched a new rider campaign, “All Aboard,” to address acts of racism and harassment, and to help all riders feel welcome and supported while using our service.


The above article was originally published by Sound Transit. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents. 

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