We are all familiar with Rosa Parks and her contributions to civil rights. Perhaps the most famous of her actions was refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. Years later, walking, biking, climate, and transit advocates continue her work, promoting mobility equity and climate justice.
Today we are highlighting the work of five individuals:
The first one on our list is Vice President, Kamala Harris. She views public transportation as a human right and recognizes the importance of reducing emissions to end climate change. She introduced the Clean School Bus Act, a bill that enables the Department of Energy to award grants that would facilitate the replacement of existing school buses with electric buses. She saw this measure as a way improve health and educational outcomes for underserved students in polluted communities.
Second, Tamika Butler is a national expert and speaker on issues related to the built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity and inclusion. She is one of the most prominent voices promoting equity in active transportation. She wrote several articles highlighting, traffic safety, bicycling, and transit equity issues. One of her articles highlighted that although Black people make up 24% of transit riders, they are underrepresented in agency leadership. In that article she states: “Someone might read this and think I’m saying that it’s time to just hire more people of color. More women. More people with disabilities. More Indigenous people. More Black people. More queer people. More people who have experienced oppression in all facets of their lives and know that oppression does not stop when they get onto transit. Yes, I am all for hiring those folks. More people need to be hired who understand that getting to transit, waiting for transit, boarding transit and paying for transit is probably just one of the first forms of oppression they will have to face that day.”
Next, Ranae Reynolds, the Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. In her previous work she managed advocacy efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure equitable electric transportation future. At Tri-State, she is leading a team in charge of fixing the NJ, NY, and Connecticut commutes, meeting climate goals, stopping traffic deaths, and making transportation fair. Some of the Tri-State Campaigns include Build Gateway Now, Circuit Trails Coalition, NJ Bus Campaign, Complete & Green Streets, and electrify NJ.
Fourth, Leah Thomas is a climate activist. She is one of the founders of Intersectional Environmentalist, an organization raising awareness about the nature of harm to the planet and the link to certain communities.
Finally, Teresa Baker is founder of the African American National Park Event. According to a Grist statistic, only 20% of National Parks visitors are people of color. Her work has changed the perceptions and behaviors in National Park culture and fostered diversity, inclusion, and loyal park stewards and outdoor enthusiasts.
There are many more others out there doing advocacy work, research, and other great work. To all of them mentioned here or not, we see the work you do all year round and Kudos!