Each year on February 4, Rosa Parks’ birthday, we celebrate Transit Equity Day, a national day to commemorate and recognize the equity efforts of Rosa Parks and other civil rights leaders. Transit Equity Day highlights the fact that transit is a human right and the need to advocate for accessible, affordable, comfortable, and useful transit for all.
Lane Transit District’s bus station, Rosa Parks Plaza, is named for Rosa Parks and a statue of her watches over transit rides each day.
Ferry Street Village: Then and Now
The stories of Black community members are all around us. One such place with a story is the historic site of the Ferry Street Village, the site of the first Black neighborhood in Lane County.
Located in the site of modern day Alton Baker Park, the neighborhood sprung up in the 1940s in an area that at the time was known as Willakenzie. Black people were barred from renting or purchasing homes in Eugene due to the rampant racism and unjust deed restrictions of the time, and found a place to call home in the Ferry Street Village. Though the village was reported to have been home to more than 101 people at its peak.
In 1949, Lane County gave notice to residents that they would need to vacate within 10 days; the county had decided to raze several portions of the village. Though notice was given, the destruction of the community and its church pushed residents out into other locations that were reported to have limited services such as water, waste, and electricity.
Just one year ago in February 2021, the Lane County Board of Commissioners directed staff to work alongside the NAACP Eugene Springfield Oregon Unit 1119 and City of Eugene to design and place a memorial to be placed in the site where the Ferry Street Village once existed.
Healing and reparations will be an ongoing necessity for Black community members, and a memorial noting the history of a site is a start, but not the end of the work that needs to be done. Now and every day, organizations such as the Eugene Springfield NAACP work within the community to advance equity goals. Consider supporting the work of NAACP.
Strides for Social Justice
In observation of Transit Equity Day, BEST encourages you to take a walk or bike ride along one of the Strides for Social Justice routes in town.
Strides for Social Justice was developed by PeaceHealth and is a free, inclusive, family-friendly app that engages and educates participants on the contributions, achievements, and milestones of Black residents of Lane County, and also highlights the injustices many have faced.