About the Rosa Parks Transit Center at San Diego Mesa College

UNVEILING & DEDICATION: The unveiling and dedication of the Rosa Parks Transit Center was held on Thursday, February 25, 2010.

Location: East Gateway entrance to Mesa College; corner of Mesa College Drive and Mesa College Circle

The Rosa Parks Transit Center honors the legacy and teachings of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who visited Mesa College several times in the early 1990s. “Mrs. Parks was not only an iconic figure of the Civil Rights Movement, she was a warm and caring presence to many people,” said Dr. Constance M. Carroll, who served as president of Mesa College during Mrs. Parks' visits. “Our students and faculty looked forward to her visits to Mesa College, and all of us were overwhelmed by her combination of humility and courage.”

The Rosa Parks memorial project was designed to celebrate the legacy and attributes of the civil rights activist and especially the “Quiet Strength” that all people have within them to take a stand against repression and injustice. The memorial is unique in that the design incorporates a functioning transit stop and an adjacent reflection area.

The bus shelter features panels displaying a historical timeline with photographs; a second panel tells the history of the relationship between Rosa Parks and Mesa College. A large photographic transparency of actual Mesa College students laminated in between safety glass is displayed above the benches. The reflection area features Terra Cotta colored cast concrete curved walls, seating and a rose vessel.

Students featured on the transit panel:

Bihawa Nimaga, Jamaal “Mason” Walker, Yama Khuu, Hermes Castro, Miguel Murrillo, Nina Moua, Sebastian Law, Brande Faris, Patty Garegnani, Daiva Seputiene, Lindsey Tarr, Carlos Garbiras

Memorial Project Advisory Committee:

Damon Bell, Nathan Betschart, Joyce Carrigan, Georgia Laris, Starla Lewis, Thekima Mayasa, Alessandra Moctezuma, Robert Sanchez, Barbara Sexton


Constance M. Carroll, Ph.D., Chancellor, SDCCD

Elaine Steele and Anita Peek, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development

Elizabeth Hamilton, Co-founder, Rosa Parks Institute for Human Rights and Self Development (San Diego-Mexico Branch)

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

About the Public Art Team

Prof. Mario Lara, Public Artist is currently a member of the Department of Fine Arts faculty at Mesa College. Professor Lara's most recent public art project is the trolley station at 25th and Commercial Trolley Station, San Diego.

Construction of the project began in spring, 2009. Completion is set for Spring 2010. Throughout fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters, the campus will conduct academic learning experiences focusing on the attributes and legacy of Mrs. Parks, including: quiet strength; identity and empowerment; diversity and inclusion; civic engagement; leadership/mentorship and service throughout the fall semester.

Nina Karavasiles, Public Artist is currently working on commissions for the Colfax Bridge in Studio City, Los Angeles. She recently completed an African-American Legacy Project for Lillian Place in San Diego as well as the 70th Street Trolley Station.

Dr. Gerda Govine-Ituarte, C.E.O. of Govine Consulting specializing in human resources/diversity/organizational development, labor, and workplace issues.

Artists' Project Statement

The Rosa Parks Memorial Project, designed for the San Diego Mesa College Transit Center located at the east entrance to the campus, is inspired by the decisive moment when Mrs. Rosa Parks chose not to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955.

With dignity and quiet strength, Mrs. Parks provided a teachable moment for all. Her act of courage initiated the now historic, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and energized the Civil Rights Movement in America. Our intention was to create a beautiful and contemplative place interwoven with artistic elements that honor Mrs. Parks and provide opportunities for the campus community to connect with, learn about, and appreciate her contributions, as well as understand her connection with Mesa College.

The memorial is composed of two conjoined areas. The bus shelter area is a functioning MTS bus stop, route 44, which serves the campus. The custom bus shelter has a lighted display kiosk with historic images with text of Mother Parks and her connection to Mesa College. The adjacent free-standing glass display wall has life-sized photographic images

of a dozen Mesa College students. Each student has a rose placed over his/her heart.

The roses signify the quiet strength of Rosa Parks that lives within us all. The flower we chose to use is the rose because her name is “Rosa.” The rose itself is a universal symbol of love. The student gathering depicted in the glass display wall represents the ever-changing student community of San Diego Mesa College, moving onward to their desired careers. The curved concrete bench in the bus stop area links to the adjacent circular Quiet Strength reflection area.

Additional seating set further back from the street offers a space for rest, serenity and contemplation. When sitting in this area one feels the comfort and protection of the curved wall. A engaged conical vessel is situated in the middle of the curved wall. The

vessel contains rose bushes and in particular, the Freedom Rose, which is attributed to Mrs. Parks. The curved wall also has embedded in its surface cut metal text of the phrase Quiet Strength that signifies Rosa Parks' strength and self determination and is also the title of a book authored by her. In the center of the Reflection Area concrete walkway is a sand blasted and color stained rose design.

The vessel and curved walls sculpturally express an abstracted figurative form that reaches out and embraces those who occupy the area. The simplicity of the forms and the use of concrete reflect the down-to-earth qualities of Rosa Parks and her ability to reach out and impact others. The overall colors of the memorial are bold, present and engaging.

They express both nostalgia of Rosa Parks and forward movement of her ideals and actions. Rose bushes are planted behind the bus shelter and alongside the reflection area, providing a living testament to the spirit and legacy of Mother Parks and her enduring relationship with San Diego Mesa College.

Rosa Parks Memorial Project Memorial Rosa Parks and Mesa College Institute for Self Development Events Links News Coverage Press Releases