“Transportation Nation” and Angela Glover Blackwell Put the Spotlight on Transportation Civil Rights

On February 12 Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project, began airing its new documentary “Back of the Bus: Mass Transit, Race and Inequality” on stations across the country. Featuring an interview with PolicyLink Founder & CEO Angela Glover Blackwell, “Back of the Bus” lifts up the impact of transportation on the lives of low-income communities and people of color.

Many of us are familiar with the historic connection between civil rights and transportation – from Plessy vs. Ferguson in the 1890’s to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the 1960’s. However, even today, transportation remains a key 21st century civil rights issue:

• Although nearly 1/3 of Americans do not drive, they invest less than 20 percent of their dollars in public transportation.

• Nearly 20 percent of African American households, 14 percent of Latino households, and 13 percent of Asian households lack access to automobiles, compared with nearly 5 percent of white households.

• The poorest fifth of Americans spend 42 percent of their annual household budget on automobile ownership—more than twice the national average.

• Nearly 60 percent of public transportation riders are people of color.

In “Back of the Bus,” community leaders from across the country share stories on how highway and transit projects affect their daily lives. These stories describe experiences of racial and economic segregation in communities of color throughout the U.S., as well as the condition of America’s public transit systems dating back from the 1950s to today.

Here’s an excerpt:

“At the same time we were doing Brown v. Board of Education and trying to integrate the school system, we were investing billions of dollars in a highway system that segregated the nation by allowing people to be able to run away from urban areas that were integrated to suburban areas that were all white,” says Angela Glover Blackwell, head of PolicyLink.

Ms. Blackwell also had the opportunity to speak with Marketplace and WNYC’s The Takeaway about these very important issues. You can check out all three interviews via the links below.

Transportation Nation’s “Back of the Bus: Mass Transit, Race and Inequality”

WNYC’s The Takeaway, “Equal Rights in Public Transportation Still a Battle for Minorities”

Marketplace, “Transportation Projects Make Budget Sense”

Please tune in and share with friends, colleagues and fellow equity advocates to continue spreading the word.

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