| Rosa Parks rides a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in December 1956 after the US supreme court outlawed segregation on buses
London, Aug. 26: A white bus driver in Louisiana has been suspended after she ordered black children to give up their seats to whites.
The case has stirred memories of the Rosa Parks protest of 1955 when a black woman refused to give up her seat to a white man.
The unnamed bus driver in Coushatta, a small farming town in the heart of the rural South near Shreveport, allegedly assigned seats in the back of the bus to black children at the beginning of the school term earlier this month.
When several white children got on the bus this week, the driver sent nine teenage black children to the back where there were not enough seats for them.
Iva Richmond, the mother of two of the black children, said: “All nine children were assigned to two seats in the back of the bus and the older ones had to hold the smaller ones in their laps.”
One of the black children, Jarvonica Williams, 16, said the bus driver allowed many white students to have seats to themselves while some blacks were forced to stand. The driver only started to work the route this year but has worked for the Red River Parish school district for several years. Previously a black driver had worked the route.
Kay Easley, the superintendent of the school, which has not been named, said: “I’m trying to get all this straight and settled, so we can all move on.”
She will announce the results of her investigation into the incident on September 5.
Rosa Parks, who died last October aged 92, ignited the civil rights protests in the South in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.
At that time state law required blacks to sit in the rear of the vehicle. Blacks were required to pay their fares to the driver at the front, then leave the bus and re-enter by the back door.. Rosa Parks sat down with her bags of shopping in a section of the bus directly behind the seats reserved for whites, in a kind of “buffer zone” designated to keep the races apart.
When a white man boarded the bus and the white driver told her to move, she refused. As a result she was arrested and jailed. Her protest sparked off a boycott of the Alabama bus system for 382 days, leading to the supreme court ruling that the state’s segregation laws were illegal. After a year’s resistance, the city accepted the supreme court’s ruling.