February 10, 2011

BACK OF THE BUS: Mass Transit, Race and Inequality on WNYC Radio

BACK OF THE BUS: Mass Transit, Race and Inequality

A One-Hour Radio Documentary Exploring the Fight for Equal Rights on America’s Roads and Transit Lines

Featuring Archival Tape of ROSA PARKS and Interviews with Top U.S. Transit Officials and Civil Rights Experts

Premiering Nationally on Saturday, February 12 on WNYC 93.9FM, AM 820, and www.wnyc.org – check local listings for other markets

Full Audio and Web Extras: transportationnation.org

(New York, NY - February 7, 2011) - Equal access to transportation was once a central issue of the civil rights movement, which, in 1955, galvanized African Americans including a young Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and most famously, Rosa Parks, during the Montgomery bus boycott. But soon after, civil rights workers turned their attention to desegregating schools, lunch counters, and voting booths, and U.S. transportation policy began encouraging suburban growth. Many African American neighborhoods were razed for highway construction, and cities were left with sub-standard transit systems.

On Saturday, February 12, WNYC and Transportation Nation will debut “BACK OF THE BUS: Mass Transit, Race and Inequality,” a one-hour radio documentary exploring the fight for equal rights on America’s roads and transit lines. The story of “BACK OF THE BUS” will be told through archival footage of ROSA PARKS, along with tape and interviews with top U.S. officials and transit and civil rights experts, including HUD Secretary SHAUN DONOVAN; Federal Transit Administrator PETER ROGOFF; and former U.S. Transportation Secretary FEDERICO PEÑA.

Produced, edited and reported by WNYC’S ANDREA BERNSTEIN, Director of WNYC’s Transportation Nation project, and NANCY SOLOMON, a Peabody Award-winning documentary producer, this collaborative reporting project visits communities across the nation to show how transit and race relations are inextricably bound – past, present, and future.

“BACK OF THE BUS” will journey to five different cities:

… ST. PAUL, where the neighborhood is being bisected – just as it was in the 1960s, resulting in the loss of 700 businesses – this time by a light rail line that was planned to go through the neighborhood – but not stop in it;

… OAKLAND, where local riders are losing bus service, but $500 million is being spent on a connector from Oakland Airport to downtown;

… ATLANTA, where the transit system has long been seen as something only poor minorities use, reinforcing segregation and creating some of the worst suburban sprawl and traffic in the nation;

… WASHINGTON D.C., where, as a result of an extensive 35-year old commuter rail system, land values have skyrocketed in downtown neighborhoods that whites once fled;

… and DENVER, a city that’s currently undergoing the largest transit expansion in the nation, and wary officials and non-profits are struggling to keep land along the new rail stations affordable – and accessible – to the city’s minority population.

The full audio, a timeline of important dates for mass transit and civil rights, data regarding how mass transit affects property values and a slideshow of people and places featured in the hour are available at the website.

WNYC Airdates:
Saturday, February 12: 6am on 93.9FM, 2pm on AM 820
Sunday, February 13: 8pm on AM 820
Wednesday, February 16: 8pm on 93.9FM and AM 820

National Airdates:
Check local listings for broadcast dates in Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Houston, Atlanta, and parts of Georgia, Montana, and Wyoming.

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