It's Black History Month in America, and for the Greensboro Transit Authority, that means a return of the Heritage Ride. The custom-decaled city bus enters service today. Once on board, passengers are surrounded by pictures and stories of important people, places and moments in black history.
Each year, like many transit systems across the country, the GTA looks to honor Black History Month. The majority of their riders are African Americans who recognize the value of public transportation. Communication Manager Kevin Elwood says, given today's divisive climate, he wanted to do something that would help riders feel proud of who they are and what they do.
He adds that this year's traveling display will go beyond typical icons like the Greensboro Four and Martin Luther King Jr.
“Those are all great,” says Elwood. “But people hear about those a lot, and I wanted to bring to the forefront some important moments in black history that have had a positive effect on not only African Americans, but on Americans overall.”
Among those highlighted are Gerald Lawson, inventor of the interchangeable video game cartridge, and Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre's first African-American principal dancer.
Passengers can experience the Heritage Ride during normal operating service, but it's also available to schools, community centers and other groups at no charge. Elwood says, last year, the powerful displays of diversity in black history made the bus popular with many group leaders including teachers who used it as part of their curriculum.
“We've had a number of schools who have requested this,” says Elwood. “And the teachers were absolutely thrilled with the program because it enabled them to be able to show their classes other aspects of African-American history, especially when our presentation touches on civil rights and public transportation here in Greensboro as well as nationally.”
The public can submit visit requests on the GTA website, where individuals can also track the Heritage Bus routes. Look for bus number 777-HR.