February 1, 2024


ATLANTA – This Black History Month, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) kicks off a yearlong celebration of Black History with a series of specially designed buses featuring Atlanta Civil Rights icons, a systemwide recognition of MARTA’s barrier-breaking Black employees, and customer-focused events.

“Black History Month gives us the opportunity to celebrate the profound contributions the Black community has made to our transit agency, Atlanta, and the world,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. “As we honor the past, we remain committed to ensuring transit is a place where all are welcome, and much like the Civil Rights movement, where inclusion and equality serve as the foundation for opportunity.”

Honoring Atlanta’s Civil Rights History

Throughout 2024, MARTA will celebrate Atlanta’s Civil Rights leaders and their role in our history with specially designed buses. These icons include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, Evelyn Gibson Lowery, and Ambassador Andrew Young.

MARTA officially unveiled the Dr. King and Coretta Scott King bus at the King Center on Jan. 4 in advance of the King Holiday observance. Other Atlanta Civil Rights icons will be honored with special buses in coming months including:

Juanita Jones Abernathy, who served on the MARTA Board of Directors for more than 16 years, advocating for transit equality and helping shape the Authority’s goals, especially with respect to customer experience.

Congressman John Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders who fought to desegregate the interstate bus system, and who was a tireless advocate for MARTA because he understood the important role public transportation plays in providing opportunity for all. On MARTA’s 30th anniversary, Congressman Lewis said, “MARTA is a shining example of what can be done. We wouldn’t be the capital of the American South if we hadn’t had MARTA.”

The Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery who served on the MARTA Board of Directors for 24 years, four as Chairman. He was among the first Black board members and played a significant role in bringing life to MARTA’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, ensuring minority businesses had a chance to proposer from the region’s investment in transit. His wife, Evelyn Gibson Lowery was a Civil Rights activist in her own right and Dr. Lowery’s partner through every part of the Movement, including on the historic Selma to Montogomery march in 1965.

Ambassador Andrew Young, who was a strong supporter of MARTA throughout its early years. As a member of the House of Representatives, he helped win federal funding for MARTA and supported the system throughout his time as Mayor of Atlanta from 1982 to 1990.

MARTA History is Black History

MARTA will recognize the following barrier-breaking Black employees throughout the month of February with custom Breeze cards, posters at bus shelters and rail stations and on MARTA’s social media accounts.

  • Fred Brown, Govan Emerson, Henry Lee Spearman, Albert McWilliams, and Charlie Frank Reeves were the first Black bus operators at MARTA. 
  • Gail Blackmon is a retired receptionist and secretary who was one of MARTA’s first Black employees. 
  • Morris L. Dillard Sr. was Director of Community Relations and one of MARTA’s first Black executives. 
  • Coy Dumas Jr. is MARTA’s longest-serving bus operator and retired in 2023 after 50 years of service. 
  • Charlie Frank Reeves was the first Black Bus Operator Supervisor at Atlanta Transit in 1963, which was acquired by MARTA in 1971. 

Also, this month, MARTA will host a series of events honoring and celebrating Black History.

On Thursday, Feb. 15 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., MARTA’s public art program Artbound presents a performance of “Music from the Movement” by Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company at West End Station.

On Thursday, Feb. 29 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., MARTA will host a special Black History Month event at College Park Station featuring live performances, MARTA trivia, and giveaways. The MARTA Market, that offers fresh locally grown produce will also be open. 

Additionally, MARTA’s social media accounts will feature a trivia campaign covering MARTA history, facts about MARTA’s first Black employees and the history of Atlanta’s role as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. Customers can also visit Spotify for a curated playlist featuring Black Atlanta artists, as well as Black artists from the 1950’s and 1960’s, the height of the Civil Rights era. Additional information can be found on MARTA's Black History Month 2024 page here.

Stay connected to MARTA: Follow @MARTAtransit on X, Facebook, and Instagram.


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