University of Maryland Shuttle-UM riders may have noticed a seat saved for a special someone during their commute Thursday.
Sixty-one years ago on Thursday, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger aboard a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Every Dec. 1 since 2005, the year Parks died, this university's Department of Transportation Services has saved a seat at the front of each of its buses in her honor.
This year the campaign received extra attention, said Anna McLaughlin, DOTS assistant director for communications and public relations.
"I don't know if it's just more people being active on social media and taking more pictures and posting it, or if it's the state of the world right now," McLaughlin said. "We want to remember that there was someone out there who was fighting for equal rights, and it's a good thing that we should all be thinking about."
She called it a "proud tradition" for Shuttle-UM and DOTS.
"Not only is it important to our staff … but it is always a good reminder for the campus," she said. "It's something that has become noticeable and important to the campus community."
McLaughlin said the tradition's roots run deep.
"The Shuttle-UM actually started back in the '70s, and it was started by the Black Student Union, so I think there's a long history there with our system of really trying to be inclusive and recognize the differences of people on this campus," she said.
Some passengers aboard the Shuttle-UM buses Thursday took notice.
"I thought it was cool they're remembering her," said Lucy Kavi, an environmental health and toxicology graduate student. "I guess people still identify with her, especially in current times."
Tianna Solomon, a junior cell biology and genetics major, said she thinks the campaign is evidence of something greater.
"It shows basically the university's desire to end discrimination," she said.
Solomon said she found out about the campaign via social media.
"It's all over Twitter," she said. "Two of my friends tweeted it and got over 500 retweets."