Before United Airlines: The History of Civil Rights Abuses in Transportation (Audio)

A bus station in Durham, N.C., in 1940. (Wikimedia Commons)

Many were stunned last week by the viral footage of a man’s violent removal from an overbooked United Airlines flight — but as author and filmmaker Robin Washington notes in a recent article for the nonprofit news organization The Marshall Project, this use of excessive force in transportation has years of historical precedent.

In this week’s episode of the podcast “This Is Happening,” host Jerry Quickly sits down with Washington to discuss the history of abuse in American transportation, and how this history pertains to the case of United Airlines and Dr. David Dao.

“It’s, unfortunately, as American as apple pie,” Washington says. While Washington isn’t sure that Dao’s removal was racially motivated, he points out similarities with transportation carrier rules throughout the decades, whether on Jim Crow-era buses or modern-day aircraft.

Listen to the full podcast below:

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