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Buttigeig on Rosa Parks's birthday promises 'equity' at Transportation Department

Buttigeig on Rosa Parks's birthday promises 'equity' at Transportation Department
© Bloomberg/Pool

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegWhite House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Senate Republicans label Biden infrastructure plan a 'slush fund' MORE said his agency is committed to “ensuring equity” in its operations in honor of Rosa Parks’s legacy on Thursday, the 108th birthday of the famed civil rights activist.

“Born 108 years ago today, Rosa Parks spent a lifetime fighting racism in America's transit system and beyond,” Buttigieg tweeted on Thursday. “[The U.S. Department of Transportation] is committed to honoring her legacy by ensuring equity is central to everything we do.” 

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The tweet also featured a photograph licensed by Getty Images of Parks sitting in the front of a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1956.

In December 1955, Parks, a then-42-year-old African American woman, helped sparked what would become a significant moment for the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat to white passengers on a city bus in Montgomery. 

Her subsequent arrest over the refusal helped lead to the Montgomery bus boycott. The historic campaign against bus segregation lasted a little more than a year until the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1956 that the racist practice was unconstitutional.

Later on Thursday, the Transportation Department also shared its own tweet marking Parks's birthday, which it also acknowledged as "Transit Equity Day" in honor of the civil rights icon.

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In video remarks included in the post, Nuria Fernandez, acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), said the day "celebrates the birthday of civil rights icon Rosa Parks and it recognizes her important role in advancing a more just and equitable public transportation system for all Americans."

Fernandez added that the FTA and the transit industry are committed to building on President Biden's vision for advancing racial equity in the nation "by pursuing more equitable transportation across the country."

Buttigieg’s words comes several days after he was confirmed by the Senate to head up the Transportation Department on Monday, becoming the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member in the nation’s history.

In his opening remarks during his confirmation hearing last month, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate stressed the need for safety in the nation’s transportation industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I believe that good transportation policy can play no less a role than making possible the American Dream, getting people and goods to where they need to be, directly and indirectly creating good-paying jobs,” Buttigieg said.

He also warned at the time that misguided policies in transportation could “reinforce racial and economic inequality by dividing or isolating neighborhoods.”