EVERETT – The Rev. Paul Stoot climbed the steps of a Community Transit bus Thursday morning and took his seat in the front row.
Fifty years ago, Stoot, who is black, would have been ordered to move to the back of the bus or face arrest. On Thursday, Stoot, pastor of Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Everett, rode with pride to Community Transit’s Everett headquarters, where he spoke at two forums marking the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her fifth-row bus seat to a white man.
“It was as if she had taken a mechanism and chucked it into the transit system of the community, and she changed the gears,” Stoot said to a room filled with Community Transit employees. “I thank her for confronting history.”
Parks’ action is seen now as the start of the civil rights movement, which began with the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.
To mark the anniversary, Community Transit buses have been outfitted with decals showing a profile of Parks in the fifth row of each bus.
“It wasn’t happenstance that the civil rights movement began on a bus, because the bus system represented a public service that should be open to everyone,” said Marisol Simon, Community Transit’s director of maintenance. “It was really reflective of the justice in the entire country.”