This Black Bus Company Provided Safe Transportation When Black People Needed It Most

rider on the bus in north carolina
Via wbur
Tremain Prioleau II
February 21, 2023

The Montgomery Bus Boycotts were famously the biggest protest action taken against the transportation system by our people. But in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a group of Black people were plotting to take an even bigger step.

In the town there were no safe transit systems in place for us. We had to walk for miles to get anywhere, on top of being vulnerable on the roads to the dangers of everyday racial prejudice.

A popular alternative was the jitney system. But jitneys, usually small taxis, were often overcrowded and unreliable. In 1926, Clarence T. Woodland, a jitney owner, hosted a meeting with 35 other owners to put an end to the transportation system chaos. The men pooled their money together to start the Safe Bus Company.

Jitney owners put their differences aside and joined the Safe Bus Company. Competition wasn’t needed. We just needed a system that would finally work for us and keep us safe.

The Safe Bus Company is a reminder to us today that we can always create something new for our community. Together, we have the tools to do anything.

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