WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American School Bus Council took part in the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Bus Ride ceremony here on Wednesday.
The day marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a landmark bill that banned discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex or national orientation. The celebratory event consisted of a keynote address from Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Department of Education's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, followed by a "returning freedom ride."
The symbolic "returning freedom" bus ride transported six of the original Freedom Riders (civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into segregated southern states in the early ‘60s), and 49 students who competed in an academic process, around Washington monuments, to Richmond, Virginia, for an event, and back to Washington.
National School Transportation Association (NSTA) member Durham School Services provided the three school buses that were used in the event. Association officials said that school buses are an important symbol from the civil rights movement, as they gave students the transportation needed to allow them to attend integrated schools.
"The National School Transportation Association is honored and pleased to participate in this event,” NSTA President Tim Flood said. “The yellow school bus, which provides the safest form of transportation available, is vital to ensuring that all children attend school. We are grateful to the Department of Education for their recognition of the important link between school buses and education.”
Dignitaries in attendance included U.S. Sen. Mark Warner; U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah; Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; Department of Education Assistant Secretary Catherine E. Lhamon; and U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach Massie Ritsch.
The Freedom Riders included Dion Diamond, Rev. Reginald Green, John Moody, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Charles Person and Hank Thomas.