In 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., Black people had to sit in the back of the bus and give up their seats to whites, which resulted in the iconic boycott. And now, more than 60 years later in Massachusetts, a bus driver denied service to a Black man because of his race.
A Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) bus driver has been fired after video footage showed him attempting to degrade a Black man, Kevin Brooks, telling him he did not pick him up, “Because you are Black.”
Brooks, a barber who commutes from New Bedford to Edgartown for work, needs the bus to get to and from the ferry to Oak Bluffs, a town located in Martha’s Vineyard, according to the MV Times. After leaving work for the day on Wednesday, Brooks attempted to flag down the Route 13 bus in Edgartown and it drove past him.
In order to get from Edgartown to catch the ferry in Oak Bluffs that travels to New Bedford, Brooks had to call an Uber. Arriving shortly after the bus, he was able to confront the driver and ask why he passed him. The driver told him it was because of his skin color.
The VTA said in a press release last week that the bus was “at capacity and the vehicle operator failed to switch the destination marquee to read ‘Bus at Capacity.'” However, the VTA also said that footage recorded by the on-board camera proved the driver said Brooks was denied service because he’s a Black man.
“Upon review of the onboard audio/video footage, it was determined the vehicle operator responded to the person’s inquiry by saying the bus was full, and when the person challenged this response, the operator stated, ‘Well, it’s because you are Black,'” according to the statement.
The bus driver’s termination was “effective immediately.” The name of the driver was not released.
“I am from the South. If I feel racism I deal with it,” Brooks told the Times. “For the first time in my life I had to swallow it. I’ve never felt more disrespected or belittled in my life. I had trouble sleeping that night.”
Brooks told the Vineyard Gazette he has commuted to the Vineyard year-round for three years to work at Mac’s Barber Shop, also to work at weddings and make house calls.
“It was a bit of a shock,” Brooks said.
“I’ve never had an issue. I don’t even live here, I still feel like part of the Vineyard. I go to the same bus stop every day.”