BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) is honoring their first African American bus driver, Clovis "BamBam" Hayes as part of their Black History Month celebration.
According to a paper written by Hayes' granddaughter, Alaija Alexander, Hayes was born on September 13, 1934 on a farm in Clinton. He was the youngest of 12 children and with only a 6th grade education, Hayes made history by becoming the first black city bus driver in Baton Rouge in 1959.
Hayes began working for the Baton Rouge Bus Company (now known as CATS) at the age of 24 and worked as a mechanic and janitor. He was paid $1.27 per hour. Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Hayes was asked to start driving buses. After six weeks of training, he began driving at was given a raise to $1.97 per hour.
Hayes drove routes on Capitol Avenue, now Capitol Avenue and East Boulevard and spent time driving on the weekends for LSU and Southern home football games.
His granddaughter says he earned his nickname, "BamBam" from his son, Juan Hayes, who heard it on The Flinstones.
Hayes worked for CATS for 41 years and was a driver for 36 of them. He retired in April of 2000. He is a father of four, a grandfather of 11, and a great-grandfather to four. Hayes is now 82-years-old and spends his time fixing cars and driving his grandkids to and from school and work.
Hayes also serves at the president of the Usher Board at Beech Grove Baptist Church in Clinton. He is always happy to give advice to the youth in the community and teach them about history. He hopes to still one day travel the world with his family.
CATS will honor Hayes at the following events:
- February 21: CATS board meeting, 4:30 p.m., BREC Office on Ardenwood and Florida Blvd.
- February 22: 12:30 p.m., Gus Young Center
- Metro council meeting, 3:30 p.m., Town Hall
- February 24: CATS bus terminal celebration, 11 a.m.