THE ROSA PARKS BUS
THE HISTORY OF THE ROSA PARKS BUS
Many of our non-Detroit members may be unaware of the fact that the actual bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her middle forth-row seat to a white passenger back on December 1, 1955, now resides right here in the Detroit metropolitan area. Her subsequent arrest which followed sparked a 381 day city-wide bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, and spearheaded the modern day civil rights movement in this country during the 1950's and 60's.
The Henry Ford Museum of Dearborn, Michigan bought the bus in 2001 after it had been discovered sitting unprotected for thirty years in a field in Alabama. At the time, the former Montgomery City Lines bus #2857 was basically a rusted shell. Its seats and the engine had been removed, and many of its windows were broken. It had even been used for target practice and had been gouged by bullets.
--Henry Ford Museum Photos
The museum was the highest bidder, at $427,919, in a national Internet auction that was held in October 2001. MAX International, an automotive engineering and technical services firm, headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, was selected by the museum to perform the restoration, which was performed at its Auburn Hills facility. Federal and private grants picked up the $300,000 plus restoration tag.
The goal of the restoration team was to restore Montgomery City Lines bus #2857 to look as it did back in 1955, including its original National City Lines standard citrus green and yellow livery. Unfortunately, most of the photos of Montgomery transit buses from that era were black-and-white, making a truly authentic restoration a definite challenge.
Ironically, just about one mile away, the same coach had rolled off the assembly line at GMC Truck & Coach Division of General Motors Corp. in Pontiac, Mich. fifty-five years earlier.
Coach #2857 was a 36 passenger GM Coach, model TDH-3610 (Serial #1132) built in March of 1948. It was delivered to the National City Lines (NCL) of Chicago, Illinois, the parent company of the Montgomery City Bus Lines. Coach #2857 was first sent to Terre Haute, Indiana, but was later transferred to Montgomery, Alabama in 1954.
On Thursday, December 1, 1955, then 42-year-old Rosa Parks was arrested on Montgomery, Ala. city bus #2857 after refusing to move to the back of the bus when ordered to do so by bus driver James F. Blake.
Coach #2857 remained in service on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama until 1971. Today, the bus remains on permanent display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:The Henry Ford Museum announced late last week that it will temporarily move the historic Rosa Parks bus to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, where Mrs. Parks' body will lie in repose. The bus will be displayed on the museum grounds from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 1, 2005.The Henry Ford Museum, located at 20900 Oakwood Blvd. in Dearborn, Mich., will also be offering free admission to its museum on Wednesday, November 2, 2005, so that those who cannot attend the funeral can also see the bus where Rosa Parks made history, at no charge.
To learn more about the bus see "Rosa Parks Bus at Henry Ford Museum" at: http://www.hfmgv.org/exhibits/rosaparks/default.asp