Quick History: Claudette Colvin

Year: 1955

Place: Montgomery, Alabama

As everyone knows, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white man, thus making history with her defiance and arrest.

However, back in March of that same year–and in the same place of Montgomery, Alabama–a young teen by the name of Claudette Colvin had already done this. She had refused relinquish her seat for a white person, and as a consequence, was arrested.

So why do we know Rosa Parks as one of the leading women of the Montgomery bus boycott while next to nothing about Claudette Colvin?

Well, when it came time to deciding on an “icon” for the cause, Civil Rights leaders found that because Colvin was going to become a teen mom, she would receive too much negative attention from the press. Rosa Parks was ultimately the safer choice.

That being said, Colvin was able to become one of the four plantiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case: the case that would eventually overturn the bus segregation laws in Alabama.

Sources:

  1. http://www.biography.com/people/claudette-colvin-11378#background-forerunner-to-rosa-parks
  2. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101719889
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