The Truth Staff
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority and the local NAACP celebrated the birthday of Rosa Parks on Saturday February 4 at the TARTA hub on Huron Street in front of the mural of the civil rights icon herself.
Speaking of the action Rosa Parks took on December 1, 1955, Rev. Willie Perryman, president of the Toledo Chapter NAACP said last week, “This single act of nonviolent resistance helped spark the Montgomery bus boycott, a 13-month struggle to desegregate city buses.
“We celebrate not only Rosa Parks for her stance for equality n public transportation but also because of the call now for equity and inclusion.
“We celebrate what would have been Rosa Parks’ 110 birthday.”
Perryman announced the second part of the morning’s celebration, a ride on TARTA Bus number 5 to the African American Legacy Project and “the rich Black history of our community.”
Laura Koprowski, president and CEO of TARTA, praised “the passion, the leadership” of the TARTA Board and partners, “in embracing a new day, a new look for TARTA, which means a new day for the community.
“Public transportation continues to play a critical role in expanding racial and social equity and expanding opportunities for all,” said Koprowski.
Of Rosa Parks, Koprowski said” “Her courage and convictions galvanized the push for civil rights and made a positive impact for generations to come.”
Lucas County Commissioner Lisa Sobecki said: “So many have worked so hard to get public transportation to the most vulnerable in our community.”
Also part of the press conference were two local students who credited Rosa Parks with inspiring them in any number of ways. Christal Moreland, a junior at PENTA career center and a youth council president of the NAACP and Dalliss Lothery, a freshman at Rogers High School and a member of the youth council both spoke.
“Rosa Parks was an inspiration to me because of her bravery,” said Lothery.
After the commemoration at the TARTA hub, the group climbed aboard a number 5 bus and headed over to the African American Legacy Project to speak more on the subject of Rosa Parks’ accomplishments and to view memorabilia about Toledo’s own African American heroes.
“We had our own Rosa Parks in Ella P. Stewart,” said AALP founder and CEO Robert Smith.
Stewart was one of the first female African America pharmacists in America. Ella and William Stewart opened Stewarts’ Pharmacy, located at the corner of Indiana and City Park Avenues (566 Indiana Avenue), in July 1922, and operated it until 1945, when they sold the business. The pharmacy was located in Toledo’s Pinewood district, where some two thirds of the city’s African Americans lived by the end of the 1920s, the pharmacy became a popular neighborhood gathering place.
By the 1930s Stewart became a leading member of community groups in Toledo, including the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and the Enterprise Charity Club, a social-service organization run by African-American women.
From 1944 to 1948 she served as president of the Ohio Association of Colored Women; and from 1948 to 1952, as president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC). As leader of the NACWC, Stewart spoke out against segregation, discrimination, and racist stereotypes.
In 1961 she became an member of the Toledo Board of Community Relations, which worked to improve race relations in the city, and to ensure enforcement of civil-rights legislation.
Stewart’s civic activities eventually took on an international dimension: in 1952 she was appointed as an American delegate to the International Conference of Women of the World, held in Athens, Greece. She subsequently spent time during the 1950s touring as a goodwill ambassador for the United States; in 1954 one such U.S. State Department tour took her to several nations in Southeast Asia, including India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
In 1963 she was appointed to the United States commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).