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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rosa Parks Highway - Interstate 55

While visiting my relatives in Missouri recently, I was riding north to St Louis and noticed that Interstate 55 was named Rosa Parks Highway for a section of it. I wondered why, since her famous bus ride took place in Alabama.

Here is what I found at Wikipedia:

Rosa Parks Highway is a portion of United States Interstate 55 in Saint Louis County and Jefferson County, near St. Louis, Missouri.

In 1994 the Ku Klux Klan applied to sponsor the highway for clean up (which allowed them to have signs stating that this section of highway was maintained by the organization). The Missouri Department of Transportation rejected the Klan's application, and the Klan filed suit.

The United States Supreme Court eventually ruled in March 2001 that the Klan had as much right to sponsor a highway for cleanup as did any other organization. In retaliation, the Missouri legislature prominently named the section after civil rights activist Rosa Parks. When asked how she felt about this honor, she is reported to have commented, "It is always nice to be thought of." [1]

The Klan, however, never followed through on its sponsorship agreement, and after required notice was given, on April 4, 2001 the Klan's agreement was terminated for nonperformance.

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