Activist Dorothy Bolden made MARTA extra aware of Black staff

Amongst these riders have been the town’s home staff. Comprised primarily of Black ladies, these staff would depart their houses early within the morning and journey north to extra prosperous areas of city, the place they cleaned houses, cooked meals, washed laundry and taken care of the youngsters of their white employers.

By all accounts, the hours have been lengthy, their wages have been low and their work typically went underappreciated.

Dorothy Bolden, an Atlanta civil rights activist and labor organizer, spent a lot of her life advocating for these expert staff, a lot of whom spent extra time toiling away inside costly houses than they did with their very own youngsters and households.

Credit score: AJC File Photograph

Credit score: AJC File Photograph

Bolden was additionally amongst a gaggle of Black leaders who got here out in opposition to the primary MARTA referendum, forcing planners again to the drafting board to give you a extra inclusive system that benefitted African People.

“There was an enormous want for transportation for working folks to get out to wherever they have been going,” stated Georgia’s former state treasurer Tommy Hills, who researched the creation of MARTA for his Grasp’s diploma in historical past. However such an endeavor wasn’t doable with out collaboration from the Black neighborhood.

ExploreFlashback Images: Planning MARTA’s future in 1968

“And I believe the white leaders figured that out fairly rapidly,” Hills stated.

After the 1968 referendum failed, extra Black enterprise leaders have been appointed to MARTA’s board.

“Whether or not it was the affect of latest board members or only a rising consciousness that African People had elevated their voting energy, the MARTA board appeared to succeed in out and contain the African American neighborhood in planning for the following referendum to a a lot higher extent,” wrote Hills, who primarily based his 2004 historical past on in depth interviews with the civic leaders who helped put MARTA on the map.

In 1971, a MARTA referendum primarily based on a one-cent gross sales tax was accredited by voters. This time it had the had the backing of extra blue-collar Black staff, together with folks like Bolden, who based the Nationwide Home Employees’ Union of America three years earlier.

ExploreAtlanta murals to honor Dorothy Bolden, who organized home staff

The daughter of a chauffeur and a housekeeper, Bolden began washing diapers at age 9 when she went to work in houses together with her mom.

She went on to develop into lively within the civil rights motion alongside together with her neighbor, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Sooner or later Bolden stopped him whereas ready on a bus. Somebody, she informed him, should be involved concerning the plight of home staff, toiling 12 hours a day and making about $35 every week.

“That’s a superb job for you,” the Rev. King informed Bolden, motivating her to ascertain the union for family staff.

Underneath MARTA, the so-called “Maid Routes” that shuttled Atlanta’s home staff north every day have been expanded. The buses, numbered within the 700s, would choose up maids and nannies every morning and drop them off in prosperous white areas — neighborhoods in Buckhead, alongside Mt. Paran Street and on Northside Drive.

Within the evenings, the buses would choose the ladies up and take them again.

Credit score: (CHARLOTTE B. TEAGLE/ File picture).

Credit score: (CHARLOTTE B. TEAGLE/ File picture).

“The routes would choose up primarily women on the Lindbergh Middle Station and transport them to the completely different areas,” stated Alicia Dunn-Garcia, a buyer data officer who has labored for MARTA almost three many years. “There have been just some stops in these areas, and repair was solely within the mornings and afternoons … The service was wanted to offer transportation for housekeepers and nannies to get to work for rich households.”

The routes weren’t extensively publicized and sometimes omitted from maps solely, so details about them was sometimes unfold by word-of-mouth or by calling the transit company straight.

There have been 22 such “maid routes” nonetheless in existence when MARTA eradicated them within the early 2000s as a result of finances cuts.

Dunn-Garcia nonetheless remembers fielding telephone calls from pissed off housekeepers and the households that employed them.

“Some employers and workers have been upset that the service had been discontinued as a result of they needed to discover different means to get to and from work,” she stated.

Some households known as to inquire about which bus stops have been closest to their houses. Others, Dunn-Garcia stated, drove to the Lindbergh Middle Station every morning to select up the ladies themselves.

ExploreFrom 2023: MARTA unveils revised Atlanta enlargement plan

In an announcement, a spokeswoman for the transit company stated MARTA “acknowledges the historic significance of the colloquially named ‘maid routes’, which supplied important transportation for Black home staff between practice stations and Atlanta neighborhoods.”

“These routes weren’t extensively publicized and relied on word-of-mouth communication inside the communities they served,” the assertion stated, including: “MARTA stays dedicated to studying from our previous as we try to offer equitable, accessible transit service and meet the wants of our numerous ridership.”

Bolden, who served as an adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, died in 2005. However she remains to be extensively remembered as a staunch advocate for home staff in Atlanta and past.

Credit score: Handout by Jen Farris

Credit score: Handout by Jen Farris

She rode metropolis buses, figuring out ladies who have been housekeepers and recruiting them for her motion. She fought for extra time pay, Social Safety advantages and higher working hours. However her union additionally established boundaries for the varieties of work they believed maids shouldn’t be requested to do: issues like climbing ladders to scrub home windows or scrubbing flooring on their arms and knees.

ExploreDorothy Bolden: Helped black home staff harness political energy

One requirement was that these wishing to hitch Bolden’s group and use its job referral record needed to register to vote.

”I don’t wish to be out right here pushing for you and also you not registered to vote,” Bolden informed The Atlanta Journal-Structure in 1986. “We aren’t Aunt Jemima ladies, and I certain to God don’t need folks to assume we’re. We’re politically robust and unbiased.”


Leave a Comment