Students at Berkeley High’s Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA) will soon have the thrill of seeing their art work writ large on the side of the Freedom Bus, a customized AC Transit bus which will be rolled out on one of the company’s usual routes in March.

The Freedom Bus project, a collaboration between AC Transit and the Alameda County Office of Education, was launched on December 1 to mark the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama, which effectively ignited the modern Civil Rights Movement.

The project highlights the role public transit has played in many civil rights movements, and helps educate school children about that part of the country’s history with a K-12 art competition for students in the Alameda and Contra Costa school districts.

“We’re teaching civil rights through the arts,” says the Freedom Bus project’s Executive Director Dria Fearn. At the project’s launch at Peralta Elementary School, seniors from Berkeley High’s AHA program stole the show as they students presented their work and spoke with passion about their vision for the bus’ exterior design, Fearn says.

The art work which wins the ongoing student competition will be displayed inside AC Transit buses in the spaces usually reserved for ads.

For full information on the project, visit the Freedom Bus website.

The competition is open until January 28. There will be a one-day Freedom Bus Tour in March, and a project recognition event at the Oakland School of the Arts, after which expect to see the bus on normal duty.

After all, everyone should have the opportunity to take the Freedom Bus.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...