May 152015
 

On Wednesday, May 20, Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit will hold Operation Mary Bowers 520 to call on the supporters of transit in the Lowcountry to join a final push to persuade Mark Sanford and other members of our congressional delegation in the US House and Senate to support public transit in legislation now before Congress.

Horse Car similar to those in use at the time Mary Bowers stood up for transit in Charleston in 1867.

Horse Car similar to those in use at the time Mary Bowers stood up for transit in Charleston in 1867.

A History of Transit Riders Acting for Justice

In 1867 Mary Bowers, a recently liberated former slave was enjoying her new freedom to assemble and speak at a rally with other people of color in downtown Charleston. Mary decided to board the new whites only horse drawn streetcar system on Meeting Street and was thrown back into the street. Two days of “militant activism” followed during which federal authorities persuaded the streetcar company to desegregate the line. For a time whites refused to sit with blacks but by summer anger faded and they were seated side by side, a practice which survived until the 1890s. This was eight decades before Rosa Parks sparked another nationwide civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

Read about the events going on and how you can participate at the Hungryneck Straphangers site.

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