28 Days of Black History Month (February 21st, 2015)
Claudette Colvin (born September 5, 1939) in Montgomery, Alabama. She’s virtually unknown to the masses but her story will amaze you. We’ve all heard of the Rosa Parks story, her refusing to give up her seat to a White person on a Montgomery, Alabama City Bus. But did you know that she wasn’t the 1st one to do, she was actually the 5th African American women to refuse The others were Aurelia Browder, Mary Louise Smith and Susie McDonald. Claudette Colvin was the first (in Montgomery, Alabama), at just 15 years old on March 2nd,1955 she refused to give her seat to a White Woman. She was arrested for Violating Segregation Laws, Disturbing the peace & assaulting an Officer. After this story broke many Civil Rights Activists came to her defense. The likes of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & ironically Rosa Parks herself. Rosa Parks helped in raising money for her defense fund. Keep in mind this incident was a full nine months Prior to Rosa Parks Historic event.
Claudette Colvin was to be the poster child for the Legal lawsuit against the Montgomery Bus. Co. However that didn’t come to be, after it was known that Claudette was pregnant many civil rights leaders took a step back fearing that her story was the wrong one to highlight. Since she would soon be a unwed African American Teen mother. She was found guilty of all charges, but was acquitted after an appeal on all of them except the assault charge. On December 1st, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, she was arrested. This incident sparked the the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King along with many other African American leaders staged a 13 month boycott of the Montgomery Bus Co. They took the City of Alabama to court in the infamous Browder v. Gayle. Claudette Colvin was a key witness in the trial as well as the 3 other ladies.. On June 13th, 1956 The US District Court ruled that Alabama Bus segregation laws were violating the 14th amendment in the Constitution. Virtually ending Segregation in the south, Claudette Colvin while not widely recognized sparked this movement and eventual victory. Claudette is the Proud mother of two sons Raymond (passed in 1993) & Randy.
In 1958 Claudette moved to NYC where she still lives to this in The Bronx. She became a Nurses Aid until she retired in 2004. This was/is not intended to discredit Rosa Parks, it’s only to highlight someone who History almost forgot. We didn’t & Mrs. Claudette Colvin if you’re reading this #Thankyou.
P.S: RIP to Irene Morgan who did the same thing in Virginia 11 years earlier in 1944 (look her up)