An African American Woman, First to Drive Battery Operated Bus in Atlanta - What Would Rosa Parks Think?


March is National Women’s History Month. Thanks goes to Democratic President Jimmy Carter proclaiming a History Week in 1980 then Republican President Ronald Reagan proclaiming a History Month in 1987. We achieve more when we work together and each year women are still proclaiming their mark in history.


On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Mrs. Adrinette Ford made history becoming the first person to officially drive Proterra’s All-Battery Electric Bus for The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in Atlanta, Georgia.


Mrs. Adrinette Ford, Electric Bus Operator ready to roll out on this historical day - Photo Courtesy of LaSandra Brown


Mrs. Adrinette Ford, Electric Bus Operator preparing to make history - Photo Courtesy of LaSandra Brown


Not only was she the first person, but she was the first woman. When she first mentioned this to me, I was so excited and said “Wow, we as black people have come a long way from Rosa Parks sitting in the back of the bus, moving to the front of the bus to an African American woman Bus Operator of an electric bus. What a way to celebrate National Women’s History Month.


In today’s rapid changing times, Proterra was looking for the battery electric bus transportation that would be friendly to the environment and reduce operating costs, versus diesel, hybrid and compressed natural gas. At present, over 30 transit systems in the United States are using this special “40 passenger” bus, and customers are excited about it.  


The Battery Electric Bus is making it's rounds in the Atlanta, Georgia area for a 30 day trial period - Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Loop

Mrs. Ford, a mother of three adult chilren, 11 grandchildren and a 17 year MARTA Veteran was eager to drive the new technology bus on Monday morning but due to circumstances, she had to wait until Tuesday to officially operate the bus. She said when she first drove the quiet and smooth electric bus, she felt like she was driving a Porsche or a Cadillac.


MARTA Retiree Ellen Magby Wilburn sharing knowlege and experiences with 17 year MARTA historical employee Adrinette Ford while at church - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


Also, it made Ms. Ford feel real good that MARTA and her supervisor chose her to be the first bus operator for the electric bus, a historical moment. They had confidence in her and felt comfortable she was going to do a great job.


Beautiful Antioch Baptist Church North Member Adrinette Ford, days before she rode into history - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth



Adrinette's many friends and family members are excited about her historic role. Adrinette’s church member and friend, LaSandra Brown from Antioch Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia where Pastor Cameron M. Alexander and Co-Pastor Kenneth Alexander reside, was right there as a passenger, documenting every moment on Adrinetta’s entire route.


Adrinette Ford, driver and LaSandra Brown, passenger get ready to be a team on this special day - Photo Courtesy LaSandra Brown


LaSandra Brown staging the historical pose from Civil Rights History Icon, Rosa Parks but this time an African American woman is behind the wheel - Photo Courtesy of LaSandra Brown


LaSandra said she was enjoying the moment, seeing people waving, smiling at the attractive, smooth riding bus, watching people getting on the bus exchanging their big smiles with excitement at Adrinette, a woman bus operator in this new technology.


She really praised Proterra, the bus creator for the special attention they have given to handicapped riders who ride their wheel chair on the bus and take a seat up front. It was amazing when they returned to the station and saw the bus recharging in less than 10 minutes.


Adrinette and LaSandra both said they will never forget this special moment in history, even though Adrinette had to drive the bus the rest of the week. During the next several weeks, the bus will have other routes in the Atlanta area for everyone to experience it and decide if this new technology will be here in Atlanta, permanently.  LaSandra said it’s great to be a witness "in real time", see things for yourself and to feel the exuberance and excitement in the atmosphere.


Church Member Friends Renee Sudderth, Adrinette Ford "The Woman of the Month"; LaSandra Brown and Karen M. Holley enjoying their church fellowship and congratulating Adrinette for her upcoming historical moment - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


Sisters In Christ, Sister J.C, Christine Goodwin, Vickie Simmons Cook and Sister Renee Sudderth worshipping together at Antioch Baptist Church North and wearing their hats in honor of First Lady Barbara J. Alexander - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


Adrinette prays before, during and after her duty shift which is a testament of God's protection when she is operating her bus every day. She has a strong foundation because of the fellowship she shares with God, her family, friends and her church members. Adrinette's grandparents, the late Homer and Suzie Carter, her late mother Grace Thomason played major roles in the growing years of Antioch while Adrinette and brothers Charles and Joey's generation continues to grow with Antioch.


47 year Pastor Cameron M. Alexander at Antioch Baptist Church North speaking to the women at his "First Lady" Barbara J. Alexander Women's Transformation Conference - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


Legendary Pastor Cameron M. Alexander and Co-Pastor Kenneth Alexander welcoming everyone to come and be part of our church family at Antioch Baptist Church North, 540 Cameron M. Alexander Blvd, NW; Atlanta, Georgia - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


Ms Regina; Co-First Lady Lisa Alexander and Renee Sudderth honoring First Lady Barbara J. Alexander for her fancy hat wearing - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


On the Saturday and Sunday before she was to become part of history, she was participating in the Barbara J. Alexander Women’s Transformation Conference at Antioch.


"First Lady" Barbara J. Alexander Women's Transformation Conference Luncheon after classes and sessions that included singing and etc - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


The official Women's Transformation Conference cake - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


The theme was Spiritual Reflections – “Is what you see who you are”. So during this special Women’s History Month of March 2017, I salute Mrs. Adrinette Ford, born 1955 who emanated the spirit of Rosa Parks, who made history in 1955 refusing to ride in the back of the bus, and moving to the front of the bus and now years later taking her place in history as a bus operator of the first battery operated electric bus in Atlanta, Georgia. What a true, authenticated transformation.


Thank you Career Lady Adrinetta Ford for your great historical service at MARTA - Photo Courtesy of LaSandra Brown


Thank you Sister Adrinetta Ford for your honorable service at Antioch Baptist Church North - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth


© 2017.March This story written and photos by Renee Sudderth and LaSandra Brown for Splash Magazines. It is not to be sold or reproduce without written permission of Renee Sudderth


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