We often hear the story of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, but there was someone else who did the same thing months before Parks did.
Claudette Colvin was born in Montgomery, AL on September 5, 1939. She grew up in a poor neighborhood. She was an A student who studied very hard. She studied black leaders such as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.
On March 2, 1955, Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. “It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right”, said Colvin.
After being charged and spending several hours in jail, her minister bailed her out. The NAACP considered taking on her case, but they refused it because of her age(15). Plus she became pregnant out of wedlock and they thought that could bring negative attention.
During her case she declared herself not guilty, but the court ruled against her and she was placed on probation. She gained a reputation as a troublemaker, dropped out of school, and it was difficult for her to find a job.
She became one of the four women that were plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case. The decision in the case ruled that the Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional.
In 1958, Colvin moved to New York where she found work as a nurse’s aid at a nursing home. She retired in 2004.
For more information visit http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/10-black-history-little-known-facts/#.WpGMga6nHcc