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Houston Metro’s Rosa Parks tribute draws backlash: “Performative gesture”

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
rosa parks houston texas gerrymandering
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A gesture intended to honor an icon of the civil rights movement failed miserably. After Houston Metro placed commemorative seat covers bearing Rosa Park’s name at the front of buses and trains, many on social media called it “performative.”

As part of a secret organizing strategy to force desegregation of public transportation in 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat, breathing new life into the burgeoning movement.

Yet, On February 4, 2022, Houston Metro pissed off a plethora of Black folks who would rather see strengthened voting rights and an end to racial gerrymandering.

Metro’s launch of the campaign coincided with Transit Equity Day. It also marked what would’ve been Rosa Parks’ 109th birthday. 

The seats read ““Dedicated to the Memory of Rosa Parks,” according to KHOU.  Meanwhile, many on Twitter called out the fact that Republicans in the state are actively combating the hard-fought political rights that historic leaders like Rosa Parks fought for.

Black Texans want political rights recognized

Emerging as a battleground state in recent years, Republicans have worked to maintain control in an increasingly diverse state. Every ten years the nation conducts a census. Then state and congressional districts are redrawn. The idea is to ensure each district has equal representation as populations shift.

Yet, through a political tool referred to as partisan gerrymandering, the party in control can maintain political dominance over how the maps are redrawn. 

Even though roughly 95% of population growth in Texas came from non-White communities, a report from the Brennan Center for Justice shows Republicans have drawn up maps that overwhelmingly favor White, conservative voters.

In December, the Biden Administration’s Justice Department sued Texas, alleging racial gerrymandering. The litigation accuses Texas of “refusing to recognize the State’s growing minority electorate.”

Still, some on social media defended Houston Metro’s attempt to honor Rosa Parks.

Either way, it’s clear that Black Texans are hungry for more than symbolic recognition of their rights. As the litigation against redrawn districts continues, the upcoming 2022 midterm elections serve as a test of the gerrymandering’s effects on Black voting power.

1 comment

gregbreakpointgmailcom February 10, 2022 - 10:39 pm

I think this is a great recognition. So many who probably were never aware of Rosa Parks and her organizing will see this and want to know more. Of course the racist Republican party is doing all they can to keep themselves in power and the racist Supreme Court just ruled that, yes Alabama which is over 40% black can only have 14% of the Congressional seats in the next election. Why? because the next election is too close to upset the district lines. Just like they felt the Handmaiden, Amy Barrett, should not be appointed to the Supreme Court…or wait, that wasn’t a problem after all. Oh, guess it depends on your complexion before interpreting the Constitution. But Rosa would have approved of this honor buy Public Transportation. I worked next to her in Congressman John Conyers’s office when I served as his AA.

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