Birmingham -- After more than 40 years riding the #11 metro route every single day, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks today gave up her seat to a white reporter after "passing" and being removed from the bus on a stretcher. Ms. Parks was originally arrested in 1964 for her refusal to give up said seat.
Seat #3A on the Route 11 bus had been known by locals for decades as the "Park Bench" as Ms. Parks rode the bus for more than 87,456 continuous laps of Birmingham between the time of her arrest, and her passing. "She always sat in that seat. Day after day. She'd get in, pay the fare, and not budge till the bus made it's last stop. She said "I'll be danged if I'll let some honkey ever sit in this seat I got arrested for taking."
More than five dozen different busses have been run on the #11 line between 1964 and today, according to a Birmingham Metro Transportation official. Yet every one of them sported the butt-print of Ms. Parks in seat #3A, even when officials "kidding around" built a bus without a #3 aisle. Frequently entertaining newspeople and visitors, Ms. Parks would allow black children only to briefly occupy her seat.
Birmingham News reporter Steven Covey, the first white person to ever sit in seat #3A, said he felt "honored" and that "it felt like a mighty big seat for one person to fill. He said he felt the spirit and soul of peace between mankind of all races rising up from the naughahyde cushion."
A Supreme Court decision, Brown versus Board of Education, determined that seat #3A was "separate and equal" to seat #2A and therefore, nobody had any right to make Mrs. Parks leave her seat. Transit authorities later attempted to make her pay a fare each time the bus went around its route, but a general strike against the Birmingham busses by people of dark color (PDC's) put an end to that.
Given Mrs. Parks, 92, propensity to nap during the ride, especially after lunch, some folks had concluded she had "passed" years before, but in a "Weekend With Uncle Bernie" scenario, no one dared disturb her, least of all transit authorities.
When Mrs. Parks great-great granddaughter Abagail visited this month, she noticed that "nanna" was a bit pale, and no longer drooling, and summoned EMT's to check her out. The coroner implied that excessive "Greyhound Therapy" might have done in the Civil Rights Pioneer, but conceded that Trailways may have been involved as well.
Now that nobody rides busses except people too poor to own automobiles, the symbology over the fight for "better"seats in city busses has largely been forgotten. Students eager to get in trouble instead joust for seats in the rear of the bus, where they're less likely to get caught. But not Mrs. Parks. Every day. Bus #11. Seat 3A. And equality for people of all creed and color.