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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Racial Equity, Black America, and Public Transportation, Volume 1: A Review of Economic, Health, and Social Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26710.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Racial Equity, Black America, and Public Transportation, Volume 1: A Review of Economic, Health, and Social Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26710.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Racial Equity, Black America, and Public Transportation, Volume 1: A Review of Economic, Health, and Social Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26710.
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Page 4

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2 In this report, the research team identifies, documents, and categorizes the substantial, nega- tive, and lasting impacts of transportation policies on Black residents as found in the literature. As the first deliverable for TCRP Project H-59, the report sets the stage for the project’s later work, while also providing a stand-alone reference document that can be used by practicing planners, engineers, and educators. The use of the term Black in this research is informed by a body of scholarship that empha- sizes specific racialized experiences (Hernandez and Murray-Johnson 2015). Postcolonial studies describe racialization as a social process that informs how society responds to the racial identity that has been ascribed to people based on the cultural markers that socially construct the notion of Blackness. For the purposes of offering duplicable research, this framing of the term Black, and the experiences toward which the framing points, encapsulates Black people who are descendants of enslaved people in the United States, Black people who have migrated to the United States, and Black people whose identities have affinity with the pan-African diaspora. The knowledge that Black communities deserve redress from decades of harm motivates this work. Specifically, the literature shows that harmful social, economic, and health impacts of trans- portation systems—and related systems such as public works, housing development, energy extraction and siting, and law enforcement—have resulted in racist outcomes that are less widely known among decision-makers and implementers. In addition to facilitating access, this research has revealed that physical transportation infrastructure creates a host of burdens on system users and nonusers alike. A few of the many burdens that transportation systems confer include exposure to statutorily inaccessible and hostile design practices (Eisenberg et al. 2022); statistical disparities in policing (Johnson and Patterson 2022); quantifiable increases in air pollution, noise, and vibration (Sayyadi and Awashti 2018); causal increases in risk of injury and death (Hughes et al. 2022); and proven destabilizing impacts on community economies and housing (Howell et al. 2018). In the best case, it is possible that with long-term reparative and harm-reductive planning, trans- portation and planning agencies could start meeting the unique needs of Black people and the communities in which they live. This type of progress could catalyze the creation and implemen- tation of processes for redress that are celebrated and welcomed by communities that have expe- rienced infrastructural racism (ITS International 2020). Furthermore, the interconnectedness between redressing the harm Black people experience and dismantling other forms of harm and oppression make this assessment of impacts to Black people an exponentially valuable contribu- tion to the broader body of mobility-justice work. C H A P T E R   1 Introduction

Introduction 3   The Foundation for Transportation Equity and Mobility Justice Is Grounded in the Civil Rights Movement Contemporary struggles for transportation equity and mobility justice emerged from over a century of advocacy and activism, via civil rights traditions, so a mobility-justice framework for prioritizing racial equity in transportation decision-making can be considered an estab- lished proof of concept. Implementing agencies typically prefer to focus on measures that can be easily quantified using travel-demand models. But acknowledging and learning from civil rights legacies grounds the understanding of mobility-justice values while strengthening the research terms analysis and supporting the development of reparative recommendations that align with the expressed priorities of present-day mobility and social justice practitioners and the communities they serve. Mobility justice, as a framing, incorporates intersectional notions of equity, which are often absent in traditional, quantitative approaches to transportation planning and investment prioritization (Sheller 2018). Civil rights histories continue to inspire emer- gent practices in transportation and ground the research terms analysis on TCRP Project H-59. Specifically: • This work builds on legacies like that of Frederick Douglass and James N. Buffum, who, with widespread organizing, led Congress to grant equal rights to Black citizens in public accom- modations with the Civil Rights Act of 1875 (Lauranzano n.d.). • This work aims to embody the strength of Elizabeth Jennings Graham, a schoolteacher whose advocacy led to the desegregation of the Third Avenue Railroad Company streetcar service in New York in 1854 (Historical Society of the New York Courts 2016). • This work builds on legacies like that of Charlotte L. Brown who, on April 17, 1863, refused to leave a San Francisco streetcar and ended a ban on Black people sitting in streetcars. Brown set off an age of Black-centering transportation activism and one of the earliest-known protest movements for equitable access to dignified transportation (California African American Museum 2018). • Similarly, this work recognizes the strength of Kate Brown who was returning to Washington from Alexandria, Virginia, by train on February 8, 1868, when she was violently ejected by a police force employed by the railroad company. Brown sued the company, and it took some five years for the railroad company’s “separate but equal” policy to be rejected in court (United States Senate n.d.). • This work channels the spirit and values of Adam Clayton Powell who, in 1942, openly denounced a ban on Capital Transit’s Black streetcar and bus operators and eventually facili- tated the hiring of 200 Black operators in New York (Warren 2014). • This work also channels the spirit and values of Garret Augustus Morgan who, after witness- ing a fatal crash, sought safer transportation and invented a three-position traffic signal. His invention became the predecessor of the modern-day traffic light, earning Morgan the title of The Father of Transportation Technology. Although “stop” and “go” signals existed, Morgan’s invention also included a third position that stopped traffic in both directions and allowed pedestrians to cross streets with greater safety. He first tested his traffic signal in 1922 in Cleveland; eventually the signal was used throughout North America until early models of today’s automatic red-, yellow- and green-light traffic signals came on the market (Morgan 1923). • This work also channels the spirit of Ida B. Wells, whose activism challenged the influx notions to segregate railroad cars in 1883 after the United States Supreme Court overturned the Civil Rights Act of 1875 (Digital Public Library of America 1885). • This work also pays homage to community-based initiatives that have tried to fill the gap of transit’s neglect of low-wealth and Black riders. The Safe Bus Company is one of them,

4 Racial Equity, Black America, and Public Transportation founded in 1926 North Carolina by 13 African American Jitney Bus Drivers to provide safe and accessible transportation to their neighborhoods (Campbell 2014). • During the Civil Rights Movement and leading up to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, segregated public transportation systems were an early location of conflict and resistance, as Black people in the United States stood up against “separate but equal” doctrine in public facilities. This era of Black mobility justice was catapulted by Claudette Colvin and later Rosa Parks, who both refused to honor bus-segregation policies (Kristo 2010). • Contemporary civil rights successes include the 1994 Executive Order 12898, which codified federal actions to address environmental justice in minority populations and low-income populations. The order, signed by President Clinton, created a formal platform for main- stream discourse on environmental racism—a mechanism and consequence of racist trans- portation and land-use practices (Clinton 1994). • The Bus Riders Union, based in Los Angeles, was formed in 1992 and is well known for its “Billions for Buses” campaign to “confront and defeat the transit racism reflected in the poli- cies of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).” In 1994, the Bus Riders Union led popular protests against a massive fare hike and obtained a temporary restraining order to stop the MTA in its tracks. The group continues to represent and advo- cate for Los Angeles County bus riders, 88% of whom are people of color (Bay 2021). • Today, roadways and freeways are often the venue for racial justice rallies as, across all social justice struggles, there is a collective understanding that the founding basis of those spaces— centering white comfort—is a core belief that should be examined and inconvenienced. In 2020, cities across the United States commemorated this with “Black Lives Matter” pavement markings on high-traffic roadways. The Value of TCRP Project H-59 for Civil Rights Advances These civil rights advances underscore the validity and value of a project like TCRP Project H-59. While agencies prefer to focus on performance measures that can be easily quantified using travel- demand models (Karner and Niemeier 2013), advocates and activists emphasize aspects of the transportation system that are not amenable to quantification but would require systemic policy changes, like shifting funding away from automobile modes; eliminating police presence on public transit; and considering the needs of women, queer people, parents, people with disabilities, and people of all sizes, among others (Karner and Niemeier 2013; Karner and Duckworth 2019; Enright 2019; Verlinghieri 2020; Karner et al. 2020).

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An overall objective of the transit community is to help develop an enhanced and more inclusive approach to public transportation planning and decision making. Public transportation planners have a critical role in addressing and correcting many of the problems caused by a 20th- and 21st-century transportation sector that severely impacted and, in some cases, destroyed Black communities in the building of today’s transportation systems and network.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Research Report 236: Racial Equity, Black America, and Public Transportation, Volume 1: A Review of Economic, Health, and Social Impacts reviews the literature and summarizes common practices of the 20th and 21st centuries that had significant economic, health, and social impacts, and the racial gaps that emerged as a result of transportation inequities, deliberate actions, policies, and projects.

The objective of Volume 1 is to document the extent of the damage that has been done to Black communities as a result of transportation decisions and actions. Volume 2 will demonstrate a methodology to estimate how much it would cost to redress those damages. Volumes 3 and 4 will provide tools for elected and appointed officials and other stakeholder groups to engage effectively in the arena of transportation policy, planning, and funding at all levels of government.

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