There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves; nothing that reminds us of the ones who made the journey and of those who did not make it. There is no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath or wall or park or skyscraper lobby. There's no three-hundred-foot tower. There's no small bench by the road. - Toni Morrison 1989 The Bench by the Road Project was launched by the Toni Morrison Society in honor of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. This Bench honors the civil rights leaders, activists, and organizations of South Baton Rouge, an African American community whose residents continuously fought against racial injustices throughout the twentieth century. The highly successful Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, organized in 1953 by the Reverend T.J. Jemison to protest racial segregation on Baton Rouge city buses, would serve as template for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Montgomery Improvement Association, when planning their 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott only two short years later. The South Baton Rouge residents are rarely recognized as individuals whose efforts provided a model for one of the most effective protest strategies used during the Civil Rights Movement. The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott demonstrated the power of
local, collective action in bringing about change and made an important contribution to the struggle for civil rights in America.