Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On the Bus

Strangely solitary, melancholy image of President Obama sitting on the bus where on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat for a white passenger in the racially segregated south.


jollyspaniard said...

For some reason I'm getting the following message pop up when I load this blog A user name and password are being requested by The site says: "Staff Use"

Dale Carrico said...

I've gotten that too. I'm assuming now it has something to do with that link on my blogroll -- though it has been there without doing that for quite a while hitherto. I'll delete the link and see if that corrects the problem.

jimf said...

That is a poignant photo.

From the Wikipedia article on Parks:

"In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance for the
purpose of segregating passengers by race. Conductors were
given the power to assign seats to accomplish that purpose.
According to the law, no passengers would be required to
move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded
and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom,
however, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the practice of
requiring black riders to move whenever there were no
white-only seats left. . .

By refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to
a white man, Parks was more clearly in violation of custom
than of law. Nonetheless, her refusal amounted to an act
of civil disobedience, resulted in her arrest and conviction
by a local court. . ."

To this day, in many jurisdictions, bus drivers have
discretionary authority to, for example, throw a passenger
off a bus if the driver and the passenger get into an altercation
for any reason. (Saying "f*ck you" to a bus driver **will**
get you thrown off a NJ Transit bus, if the driver is willing
to stop the bus and call the police over it.)
This authority is backed up by police without question (as
I know from experience -- I wasn't arrested, but the cops
made me get off the bus at the driver's behest, and made it
abundantly clear that if I refused to get off the bus
voluntarily at **their** request that I'd be spending the
weekend in jail.)

It wouldn't surprise me at all if an incident similar in
form to the Parks incident in '55 might these days be deemed
(at least by the authorities) not merely an act of
"civil disobedience" but an act of **domestic terrorism**
(with penalties pertaining thereto).

But ah, the GM "old look" buses.

Long ago, when my age was a single digit and my grandmother
was in her 70s, she would dress up and put on rouge take me
shopping with her downtown on a bus that looked just like that,
and that came clattering and roaring down the street in front
of her house several times a day.

One of the things that's stuck in my memory about those bus rides
is the chiming fare box on those buses. You'd drop in your fare
in coins (it was, what? 15 or 25 cents in those days) and the box
would count them and make a sound for each coin's denomination.

It turns out that those particular fare boxes (very high-tech for the
time, no doubt) were made by the Grant Money-Meters Co. in Providence, RI.
I was hoping to find a YouTube clip with one of these in
operation, to hear that sound gain, but I've only been able
to find an operator's manual describing it.