Smile Politely

MTD unveiling this year’s Juneteenth bus on Saturday

A group of people are standing in front of a city bus with the words Juneteenth in yellow, and accents of green, yellow, and red.

Last year, MTD debuted their inaugural Juneteenth bus as part of their effort to commemorate the holiday. They’ve announced that tomorrow, Saturday, April 13th, they’ll be revealing their next one. The photo you see above is from last year, and check out the press release below to learn more.

From the press release:

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) will hold a ribbon cutting to unveil our second Juneteenth Bus & Mobile Exhibit on Saturday, April 13, 2024 at 1:00 pm in downtown Urbana. MTD is honored to be invited by 40 North and the Urbana Arts & Culture Program as a guest with our exhibit at PostMark Urbana: Boneyard Edition. The event is free and will take place in the parking lot of Busey Bank-Urbana from 12:00 to 4:00pm with children’s activities, live music, and fun.

Employees on MTD’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee worked together to prioritize education of the Juneteenth Holiday and Black History through the creation of the Juneteenth Bus & Mobile Exhibit. This year the Committee commissioned local Black artists, Stacey “BLACKSTAR” Robinson and Kamau “DJ Kamaumau” Grantham, known collectively as BLACKMAU, to design a Juneteenth bus wrap.

Artists Kamau and Stacey have titled the artwork used for the bus wrap, “We are the Sankofa People of Tomorrow,” and describe it as, “accessing past, present, future, and all spaces adjacent with a 360 degree spherical command with dexterity and intelligence.” To explain the concept of Sankofa, BLACKMAU says, “We’ve always been here from infinity past to unimagined tomorrows. Sankofa is a Ghanaian term meaning to ’Go back and get It.’ This is our ancestral culture, from the wooden spoons Big Mama stirred grits with to Parliament Funkadelic’s Mothership.”

The Committee hopes the colorful and captivating design will spark interest and encourage more people to get on board to experience the mobile history exhibit inside the bus. In addition to outlining the history and importance of Juneteenth, the interior space was enhanced this year to include local Black history. Through a partnership with the Champaign-County African American Heritage Trail, the Juneteenth Bus highlights 25 stories of African Americans from Champaign County’s rich cultural history. 

“The mission of the Champaign County African American Heritage Trail (CCAAHT) has always been to educate today’s residents and visitors about the history of African Americans in our community,” says Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Experience Champaign-Urbana, which coordinates the Heritage Trail. “This partnership with MTD helps us achieve that mission by literally bringing some of these incredible stories into our streets and neighborhoods for all to see.”

“The art that BLACKMAU has provided, in collaboration with MTD’s DEI Committee, offers a one-of-a-kind, inspirational travel experience,” says Karl Gnadt, MTD’s Managing Director/CEO. “We hope the community enjoys seeing this beautiful piece traverse our community streets for the next several months, as well as takes part in reading the exhibit inside. The local history of our African American community is captivating, and we are grateful to the CCAAHT for helping us tell these stories.”

The Juneteenth Bus Mobile Exhibit is a powerful and accessible educational resource and will be available at upcoming community events. The bus will go into regular service the week of April 14 and will be assigned randomly to various routes through the summer. Announcements on planned appearances will be posted to the District’s social media pages (@rideMTD) as events are confirmed.

Executive Editor

More Articles