Project

“Yellow Rolling Cell Blocks”: The Urban Bus and Race in the United States

Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships

Abstract

This project considers why the urban bus has fallen out of favor with American travelers since the middle of the twentieth century. Rather than crediting the overwhelming success of the private automobile, it insists that particular historical moments have transformed the urban bus into a signifier of racial blackness. This project explores how urban spatial, political, economic, and racial dynamics intersect with broad understandings of collective transportation to produce the racial connotations that form the foundation for decreased urban mass transit bus ridership, elimination of intercity bus service, resistance to public school forced-busing programs, and the generally negative connotations under which bus riders suffer in most American cities.