Claudette and Rosa

Topics: Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pages: 5 (1165 words) Published: November 13, 2014


Claudette Colvin (b, September 5, 1939) is an African American woman from Alabama. In 1955, at the age of 15, she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white person, in violation of local law. Her arrest preceded civil rights activist Rosa Parks' (on December 1, 1955) by nine months. Ms. Colvin was a student at Booker T. Washington High School. Colvin's family didn't own a car, so she relied on the city's gold-and-green buses to get to school. On March 2, 1955, she boarded a public bus and, shortly thereafter, refused to give up her seat to a white man. Colvin was coming home from school that day when she got on a Capital Heights bus downtown at the same place Parks boarded another bus months later. The bus was getting crowded the bus driver looking through the rear view mirror asking her to get up out of her seat, which she refused. She just continued looking out the window. She decided on that day that she wasn't going to move. Other black passengers complied; Colvin ignored the driver. The driver walked back and asked her again. She moved for white people before, but this time, she was thinking of the slavery fighters she had read about recently during Negro History Week in February. The spirit of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth was in her that day. She did not move. She was sitting about two seats from the emergency exit when four whites boarded and the driver ordered her, along with three other black passengers, to get up. She refused. There were two officers approached her, she started crying, she tried to explain herself. One of them kicked the thin teenager and knocked the textbooks from her arms, she was dragged off the bus while others did or said nothing or tried to help. They were too afraid for their own lives. She was handcuffed and taken to the city jail, where she was charged with disorderly conduct, violating the segregation ordinance and assault and battery, presumably because she clawed the officers with her long fingernails. Ms. Colvin was convicted of violating the segregation law and assault she was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from the bus. She screamed that her constitutional rights were being violated. At the time, Colvin was active in the NAACP's Youth Council, and she was actually being advised by Rosa Parks. Ms. Colvin is actually the first woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus, she was not the face of the boycott because of the way that she looked and the fact was only a teenager, the NAACP felt that Rosa Parks was an adult and looked middle class so they felt she would be a better suit for the movement. Colvin admired Rosa Parks and concedes that a self-assured adult of 42 made a better symbol for the bus boycott than an impetuous youth of 15 would have. Parks was a family friend. Colvin used to spend the night at her house and once served as a mannequin for a wedding dress that Parks, seamstress, was making.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement. In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance to segregate bus passengers by race. Conductors were empowered to assign seats to achieve that goal the law, no passenger would be required to move or give up his seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Montgomery bus drivers adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move when there were no white-only seats left. The first four rows of seats on each Montgomery bus were reserved for whites. Buses had "colored" sections for black people generally in the rear of the bus, blacks comprised more than 75% of the ridership. The sections were not fixed and were determined by placement of a movable sign. Black people could sit in the middle rows until the white section filled; if more whites needed seats, blacks were to move...
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