Black History Month: MTC event notes transportation, housing contributions

Black History Month program at MTC
MTC hosted an event this week on transportation and housing contributions made by African Americans.
Mark Prado

MTC hosted a "Gallery of Heroes" exhibition this week highlighting transportation and housing contributions made by African Americans as part of Black History Month celebrations around the Bay Area.

The event featured video biographies of innovators, along with informational poster boards on such notables as Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to hold a pilot's license; Andrew J. Beard, who introduced improvements to railroad car couplers in the late 19th Century; and Maya Angelou, who in addition to being a famed writer and poet, was the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco in her teens.

Black History Month program at MTC poster
Black History Month program at MTC
Mark Prado

BART is also highlighting the month, noting several activities around the Bay Area. SFMTA also celebrated earlier this month with other San Francisco city workers. AC Transit is also highlighting events.

Nationally, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has produced a vital history of contributions to transportation made by African Americans.The Association’s site features biographies, photos and the compelling stories of pioneers who played key roles in the development of transportation in the United States.

Among those newly featured this year:

  • In 2010, La’Shanda R. Holmes Hawkins became the first African American female helicopter pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard. As an officer, she has amassed more than 2,000 flight hours while helping to carry out search-and-rescue missions, law enforcement operations, and various other duties.   
  • During the heyday of walking competitions in the 19th century, Frank Hart established himself as not only a trailblazing African American in that sport but also a formidable participant in those events across the United States.
  • Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in Maryland in 1849. She subsequently risked her life to help others from that state likewise escape to freedom. As an Underground Railroad conductor in those years prior to the American Civil War, Tubman led about 70 enslaved people to the North. 

The organization also has produced a video highlighting achievements. The U.S. DOT has also produced a video recognizing African American transportation innovators.


Submit your comment

In order to receive a reply to your comment, please provide an email address.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.