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AC Transit “Freedom Bus” Integrates Art, Civil Rights & Public Transportation

Submitted by News Desk on Wed, 03/30/2011 - 12:09pm

Freedom Bus Project

The Freedom Bus Project, a joint effort by the Alameda County Office of Education and AC Transit, in conjunction with West Contra Costa Unified School District and Art IS Education, displayed the official AC Transit Freedom Bus honoring all civil rights movements at the Oakland School for the Arts on March 25, 2011 at the Freedom Bus Project’s Art Exhibition and Community Celebration.

The Freedom Bus Project honors the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama. Commemorating this historic event, and all civil rights movements, the Freedom Bus Project was launched to celebrate the East Bay’s rich diversity and legacy of community activism. The project engages youth across the East Bay to learn about and express their unique visions of social justice through the arts. Project co-chair and AC Transit Board Director, Joel Young, comments, “There is a gap in education when it comes to teaching civil rights, and our goal is to bridge that gap by integrating civil rights and the arts.”

“Considering that a passenger on a public bus was the catalyst for a civil rights movement  that literally swept the world, it is only fitting that AC Transit—a public bus agency—be a part of this historic educational  project,” said AC Transit Interim General Manager Mary King. “As an agency, we are both honored and proud to be a part of the Freedom Bus Project effort to integrate fine arts with civil rights and public transportation.”

“We’re excited to have AC Transit as an Art IS Education partner to celebrate the important role of arts in our schools and communities,” said Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. “It’s fitting that efforts to recognize the legacy of Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement include youth voice through art. The arts allow teachers to see what students learn through what they produce and perform artistically, making learning visible.”

Elementary, middle and high school students in the AC Transit service district, which spans Alameda County and West Contra Costa County, have submitted social justice-themed artwork to be considered for the Freedom Bus Project’s mobile art exhibit. Starting in April, four of the winning entries will be displayed in over 200 buses in the AC Transit fleet, allowing AC Transit riders to participate in the Freedom Bus Project. The mobile art exhibit will be on display until April 30, 2011.

Additionally, artwork created by Berkeley High School Arts and Humanities Academy students depicting scenes from the Montgomery Bus Boycott has been “wrapped” by Titan Worldwide onto the exterior of the official AC Transit Freedom Bus. The official AC Transit Freedom Bus will be on display at the March 25th event. Thereafter, it will embark on a one-day Freedom Bus Tour, with stops at three schools, and will be placed in regular service on AC Transit bus lines.

The Freedom Bus Project’s Art Exhibition and Community Celebration will also serve as a featured event for Art IS Education, a month-long celebration of arts learning in Alameda County in March. For the past eleven years, Art IS Education has honored the artistic talent of countywide students and provided opportunities for students to share with their community what they are learning in and through the arts.

Executive Director of the Freedom Bus Project, Dria Fearn, notes, “It is inspiring to see that the passion of civil rights is very much alive; to see the artistic interpretations of social justice through the artwork of so many young people is very special. We are thrilled by the support of the school districts, AC Transit and our generous sponsors. ”

 To learn more about the Freedom Bus Project, visit www.freedombusproject.com.