Artworks, Stations

Pathways to Freedom

Project Description

Artists Michael Massenburg and Robin Strayhorn created a public artwork honoring Rosa Parks and the Watts community. Viewing public transportation seating as symbolic of the Rosa Parks historical event, the team created 5 seating areas out of concrete and ceramic tile, each seat honoring an important year in the life of Rosa Parks.

  • 1913: The year Rosa Parks was born
  • 1955: The year Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus
  • 1963: The Civil Rights march in Washington D.C.
  • 1964: The year the Civil Rights Act was passed in Congress
  • 1965: The Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery.

The artist team worked directly with the local community and the South Central Senior Citizens Center, illustrating the connection between events associated with Rosa Parks’ life and the lives of people from Watts. Collecting photographs of important events and people from the community, these images are incorporated into the artwork through painting on the tiles.

Artist Statement

“Our philosophy is that art is functional and should be reflective of its different communities. We create an artistic and cultural environment for communities who may not have access to galleries and museums.”

About the Artist

Michael Massenburg Artist Portrait

Portrait of Michael Massenburg

MICHAEL MASSENBURG has completed public art projects for California State University, Dominguez Hills, ESPN Zone – Disney (Baltimore and Anaheim), Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (Washington D.C.), Central Avenue Jazz Festival (Los Angeles), Dana Point Jazz Festival (Dana Point) and Los Angeles Southwest College. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum Boribana (Dakar, Senegal), Art Kumba (Tamabacounda, Senegal), Watts Labor and Action Committee (Los Angeles) and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Michael has received grants from the California Arts Council, California Community Foundation, and the George Sugarman Foundation.


Robin Strayhorn Artist Portrait

Portrait of Robin Strayhorn

ROBIN STRAYHORN‘s public art experience includes two commissions for the Ontario International Airport in 1998. In addition to her public art experience, she was a LAUSD teacher for Markham Junior High School (now Markham Middle School), located less than a mile from the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station.