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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: CLAUDETTE COLVIN

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Everyone is familiar with Rosa Parks. However, nine months before Parks became famous for refusing to obey a bus drivers order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger, 15 year-old Claudette Colvin (1939-), was arrested for the same offense in Montgomery, AL.

At that time, Colvin was a student at Booker T. Washington High School who relied on the city buses to get to school. On March 2, 1955, she boarded a bus and was sitting about two seats from the emergency exit when four white passengers boarded. The bus driver ordered her and three other black passengers to get up, but Colvin refused and was removed from the bus by two police officers who took her to jail.

A classmate at the time, Annie Larks Prince, recalled that the bus was getting crowded and the bus driver asked Colvin to get up out of her seat, but she didnt. She didnt say anything. She just continued looking out the window. She decided on that day that she wasnt going to move.

Recounting that day, Colvin said shed moved for white people before, but she was thinking of the slavery fighters she had read about recently during Negro History Week in February this time. The spirit of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth was in me, she said. I didnt get up.

Colvin was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from the bus while she screamed that her constitutional rights were being violated; at the time, Colvin was active in the NAACPs Youth Council, under the advisement of Parks.

Colvin feels her disobedience was the spark for much of the movements fire: She (Parks) made something out of what I started.

Civil rights attorney Fred Gray always discusses Colvin when he speaks about the boycott and Parks; according to him, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and its place in history would have been vastly different without Colvins actions.

Shortly after her arrest, Colvin became pregnant and local black leaders felt this would scandalize the deeply religious black community. She was sentenced to probation for the ordinance violation and neighbors, students and others in the community began to think of Colvin as a troublemaker.

They distanced themselves from me, Colvin said of fellow students. They didnt want to be close to me because of my beliefs. Colvin subsequently dropped out of school and she said, that, along with her pregnancy, was the reason they (black leaders) did not use her as the test case challenging segregation on city buses.

They wanted Parks to be the icon, but Colvin is glad she acted.

She did what she had to do and made something of it, she said.

REFERENCES: The Montgomery Advertiser, Wikipedia

Concrete Loop will feature Black History Spotlights each week. These features illustrate the achievements of black people through the years and submissions are welcome.

74 CommentsCOMMENT?

Posted by: J. Dakar

more info on the dope 21MC pharaoh's poncho way-back-like-cornrows callaloo-checks sportin-waves safari-dimebag

74 Comments


1.

VirgoDoll

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

wow!! l erarned something new

2.

Sabrina

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

this is why I love your posts!!!! thank you for such a profound posting, Ive never heard of this woman,Ive learned something this morning. Im all about assimilation

3.

Sharonda

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Wow.Never heard of her until now.Everybody always mentions Rosa Parks.But I live in Montgomery and though some things change, I can still feel and see the racism that will never go away.

4.

Paris Hilton's Valtrex

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

I knew about her. My mother told me about Ms Colvin. The reason why the Civil Rights leaders didnt run with her is because she was dark skin. Yes, that it ignorant! But hey, they chose to fight for a precious light skinned seamstress. Thats the mentality our leaders had back then.

5.

nicholelibra

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Thanks for that moment in history. I always knew that Rosas actions were planned, but its nice to know exactly how they came about it.

6.

Ms Ke

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

wow didnt know that. her name should be right there with rosa!

7.

Queen_Chrissee

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

I remember hearing about this lady.

8.

STLCHICK

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Yeah, I already knew there were others before Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks just happened to be working as a secretary for one of the Civil Rights groups at the time, I want to say SCLC or the NAACP. She got a lot of attention because of it and sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

9.

Angelicious07

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Wow! Ive never heard of her. Its a shame she didnt get the same regonition as Rosa Parks. And you are right Ms Ke - she should. You go Concrete - keep post like this coming.

10.

jboo

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

wow i never learned about her in school.
thanks for the lesson!

11.

ash

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Thank you for posting this! I never heard of this woman before, which is a shame.

12.

Angelicious07

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Hey J. Dakar what is she doing now? Is she a motivational speaker?

13.

TeTe(Another hit..BarryBonds!)

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

i think i heard before that there was someone before rosa parks.thanks for posting this!

14.

MR MR

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Yeah, this story gets overlooked a lotglad you posted

For those new to the story of Ms. colvin, please do some additional research
it truly is a sad storythe black leadership of the day essentially blacklisted this young girl for being 15, pregnant, and as one civil rights leader put it, wild.

rosa parks, much more upstanding in the community, was a much better choice (in the opinion of the day) for in terms of calling attention to the racist practice of segregation.

15.

J. Dakar

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

#12: Colvin left Alabama for New York in 1958, and said she wanted to go north and liberate her people. She worked the night shift at a Catholic nursing home before retiring after 35 years of working as a nurses assistant.

Colvin, who had dreams of becoming a lawyer, said shes disappointed about her life and not fulfilling her dream, but she added, Then again, no one knows what’s in store for them. At least my grandkids don’t have to suffer what I had to suffer.

Let the people know Rosa Parks was the right person for the boycott. But also let them know that the attorneys took four other women to the Supreme Court to challenge the law that led to the end of segregation.

Peace and blessings,
J. Dakar

17.

cbreezie007

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

itz sad to see that im jst finding out abt thiz after shes ben dead for 3 years.
i meanwhy culdnt we learn abt her in skool also..?!?!?!?!
i neva heard of her until now..!!!!!!!!!!!!!

.

18.

jones

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

If you really think about it,having a baby at 15 back in those days was a BIG EFFING NO NO.

19.

2Cent

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Finally, someone telling the TRUTH about the whole Rosa Parks story. It wasnt until I took AA studies in college that I had ever heard of Claudette Colvin as the first to refuse her seat to a white person. History is never as it seems

20.

nick

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

WOW THATS INTERESTING IM FROM MONTGOMERY AND ITS AMAZING HOW MANY PEOPLE DONT KNOW THIS AND IT WAS NOT JUST HER EITHER IF U GO A LITTLE FURTHER IT WAS 2 MORE YOUNGER WOMEN ALSO BEFORE CLOVIN. People need to know that Rosa Parks was special at the time because she had ties to Martin and thats the only reason they took her arrest to be ground breaking

21.

the one is back

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Great story Concrete. I want to personally thank you for making Black History more then just something we think about in February. It should be taught all year long.

Keep it up and keep us moving.the one has spoken

22.

Sharon

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Wow, thanks for posting this. I never heard of her before, but Im glad I know now.

23.

Angelicious07

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Thanks J.

24.

e-ka

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Okay this may sound ignorant. But the test case statement. Could that possibly mean that Rosa refusing to give up her seat was premeditated?

25.

southern_queen

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

I never knew anything other than the Rosa Parks story. This is something new I learned today-thanks!

Its a bit unfair that she was ( I guess) being put in the background because of her preganancy.

Yeah these post and stories,our history should be told and taught 365,instead of once a year.

26.

S.D.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

I heard of her. Never knew her name but my ol god dad told me about her. This was one of his reasons for criticizing the civil rights movements.

27.

Dlish

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Woooow!! Its a Damn shame that I have never heard of Ms Colvin. She should be honored @ the next NAACP awards or hell even the BET awards. And to think Rosa clowned OutKast for that song when her actions were pre-meditated. Huumph!!

28.

S.D.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

24.

Thats exactly what it means. The whole thinf was planned, which isnt a bad thing. It needed to be done no matter what. PLanned or unplanned.

29.

BEAUTY SCHOOL DROP OUT

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Im glad you all decided to post about this b/c I had nooo idea who this women wasand Im definetly feeling yall movementpromoting Black History should be done all year every year instead of just for one monthand its crazy that shes not known b/c she had a baby at 15i know having a baby at such a young age is not acceptable by society (then and now) but they should have at least mentioned her in the more modern and updated textbooks you dont just try and erase history b/c of someones mistakewhat kind of example is that setting???

30.

kaykay

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

this is great to know. a lot of brave black men and women sat on the bus where they wanted. people i knew criticized rosa parks when she passed saying shes only famous for being respectable and light skinned while thousdands of others did the same. i see her and the political human rights orgs that supported her as representing all black people who wanted to sit fairly on the bus. who cares what shade of black she was if i can sit front row on the metro? some black people dont understand the politics of pre-hip-hop america. these kind of people blow me and are disrespectful imo. i went to see mrs. parks body lie in state at the Capitol alone cuz my frinds suck.

31.

miss penn state

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Thanks, CL.

I think I heard of her, but they never really talked about her in school.
Its a shame, because she helped contribute to the Boycotts and even
inspired the SCLC!! I just wish that she would get some recognition

I have been looking for motivation the last few days, and this definitely
has to be it!!!

Have a blessed day!!

32.

La La Lemonn

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

My Mother always told me about the first girl who didnt get up. She didnt remember her name, but she knew that Rosa was the second person not to get up. My mother was quite active in the civil rights movement so this story makes me feel good. My mom did her best to show me and my siblings what it was like outside the books, what Our People really went through. Thank you Claudette Colvin.

33.

VINCY GAL

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

WOW ITS AMAZING HOW MANY BLACK PEOPLE DONT KNOW TOO MUCH OF THEIR OWN HISTORY..WE ONLY LEARN WHAT THEY (WHITE MEN) TEACHES US IN THE TEXT BOOKS..I LEARNED ABOUT MS. COLVIN ON MY OWN WHEN I WAS DOING A BLACK HISTORY PROJECT FOR SCHOOL..IM GLAD CONCRETELOOP POST ARTICLES LIKE THIS BECAUSE IT MAKES IS WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR ISTORY THAT WE DONT KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT..

HEY IF YALL KNOW ABOUT *DICK GREGORY8 CHECK HIM OUT..HE HAS SOME FASCINATING OPINIONS AND FACTS ABOUT OUR BLACK COMMUNITY TODAY AND OUR HISTORY..

HEY WHO KNOWS ABOUT OUR REAL FIRST PRESIDENT???
AND NAW ITS NOT GEORGE WASHINGTON..THE GUYS NAME WAS JOHN HANSON..IF YOU LOOK INTO HIS HISTORY HE IS A BLACK MAN BUT WHITE PPL WOULD NEVER PRINT THAT IN THE TEXT BOOKS..

MUCH LUV BLESS UP

34.

JUDAH

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

@24

Yes it was premeditated and orchestrated.

35.

B

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

THANKS CONCRETE LOOP! I LEARNED SOMETHING NEW TODAY!.THE MORE YOU KNOW! *STAR SHOOTING IN THE BACKGROUND*..LOL

36.

simplylovely

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Wow i have a new heroe!

37.

nicholelibra

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

#17, Claudette Colvin is still alive; Rosa Parks died 3 years ago.

#24, That whole coming home from scrubbing floors story was a cover. No coincidence that Rosa Parks just so happened to be the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and well tied to Dr. King. Kind of hard to believe that Mrs. Parks was the first one out of the whole entire black population to say no.

#27, Rosa Parks had nothing to do with that Outkast mess. According to her grand-daughter, it was the people around her that made a big deal of it. Thanks to the Dementia had already claimed a great portion of her mind.

#30, You sound smart, but your friends are dumb. If I had the means to go I would have gone. Its sad how no one takes the effort to remember their history. And Im not talking about just black people. This country as a whole has problems. Hell, most of the US citizens born here wouldnt even be able to pass the citizenship test. The old saying, forget your future and youre doomed to repeat it, has a strong ring of truth to it.

38.

nicholelibra

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

And why the hell are there only 38 posts on this topic, while the post after it have 62 and 42? (Technically less than that since some of us posted twice)

39.

Keli

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

There was a lot of politics associated with the movement, you had to have someone at the forefront that did not appear to intimidate. Dr. King was selected as the voice because of his oratory gift.

40.

Questioneverything

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

BIG UPS!!!! i was JUST talking about Ms. Colvin yesterday after a conversation came up about the movie Barbershop. I remembered hearing how Ms. Colvin was tossed aside becuase she was pregnant and they also didnt want to use a dark skinned woman as the face of the Civil Rights struggle. How sad. I am glad she is still speaking up about the real story.

41.

The King of Meats

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Claudette Colvin look like she could be related to Randy Jackson of American Idol!

DUDE!!!

42.

Intrigue216

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Ive heard of Colvin before and her being 15 and pregnant certainly had a bearing on her getting recognition for standing her ground. I just wasnt aware that there were women before here who refused to give up their seat.

43.

a.k.a. new yorker

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

i think i heard of her before but forgot about her b/c they NEVER try to teach ppl about her actions. i think that now she should get recognition for her works b/c it was wrong in the first place to put her in the background

44.

Day-Day-DC

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Its real important and good to see Claudette recognized. And she as well as Rosa should be lauded for the things they did.

But in no way should this down play what Rosa Parks helped make happen, premeditated or nor..she didnt have to get on the bus and sit downa and refuse to get up, she didnt have to get locked up..its important that she did it for a reason so Claudette or anyone after her would not have to go through what they went through. Its kinda lame they didnt want to use Claudette because of the pregnancy but in some ways its understood. I dont think Rosa did it for the fame, I think she did it to play her part for all of us black people.

Also Im sure its alot of other people who will go nameless forever who endured the same brutality and worse

lol signing off

Dat Ni99a

Day-Day

45.

LAY LAY

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

it trips me out how we dont find any of this information in our history books. why are we not informed of this type of information? it doesnt make any sense.

46.

obamagirl85

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

i knew this but i thought she was pregnant at the time and thats why they decided to use Rosa Parks thats just something I can remember them telling us at school

47.

JUDAH

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

@47

They dont tell you certain things in school because the people that get memorialized are the people with the connections. This sister just happened to be taking a stand. She wasnt looking for the glory of recognition, so she didnt pursue connections to make sure that she was remembered after taking a contrived stand.

48.

lilblackfan

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

we were talking about this 2 weeks ago in my english class. thank j.dakar! its good to get some more information about her :D

49.

JUDAH

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Alot of what our people have been told in history is either a complete lie or a partial fabrication. Black people have to realize that nothing is omitted from history by happenstance. Its for the sake of instilling ignorance and confusion in our people and it has worked (Isaiah 5:13, Hos 4:6). The whitewashing of history has had an outstanding effect on our thought patterns (Job 9:24, Rev 13:4-18).

50.

brdnbutta

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

thanks for posting this very unknown story!!! i first learned of this in 2000 while in an African American history course. it blew my mind how many people actually took the same stance but are virtually unheard of because of the social status they had. I know why the NAACP chose the people it did to be prominent in the movement: they needed Blacks from impeccable backgrounds who White people couldnt easily scrutinize and dig up dirt on. still it is ultimately up to us to become educated about our own history and to not allow our history and who is deemed important to be decided by the Media or our sorry excuses for history textbooks

51.

ms.observante

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

The only reason I knew about this was because of Tom Joyners Black History Facts. I think its really funny how Rosa Parks has never mentioned this lady. Rosa is really placed on a pedestal for her starting the bus strike. Somebody needs to give this woman more credit!

52.

1nubianqueen

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Very impressed Concreteloop! Never heard of Ms. Colvin, before now. Keep up the good work.

53.

Emma V's Great-Grandaughter

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

I think that Ms.Colvin should be honored for her actions like they did with Rosa Parks. They both made history and we need to learn more about our people everyday. Keep up with the good work Concreteloop.

54.

MW09

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

I knew a woman before Parks had refused to give up their seat but I didnt know their name.very imformative.

55.

JStreet

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

cosign

56.

sADbutTruE88

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

IM SO GLADEEEEEEEEEE ITS OUT THE YEAR AND NOT JUST THE SHORTEST MONTH IN THE ENTIRE YEAR LOL THANKS CONCRETELOOP YOUR MY HERO

57.

MISSISSIPPI G_DDAMN

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Great post. I wish this lady wouldve gotten her due while she was still alive.

Goes to show you, even the Civil Rights Movement had a marketing plan.

58.

cash

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Thank you Concrete Loop! Can we have some Black History everyday? That would be great!

59.

Staci

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Wow I never knew about this!

60.

TiffyT

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Nice post. I did my black history project on her many years ago while I was in the sixth grade. I chose her because I didnt understand why she wasnt as well know as Rosa Parks. This answered some questions Ive had for years.

61.

Dyvinesun

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

Thanks for the post I never heard of her either I always knew others refused before rosa, thanks now she gets recognition before she passes away.

62.

BassMan

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

It hurts I never knew of her, but now I have something to tell my family/friends and even, hopefully, my future sons or daughters.

Glad you told her story, J!

63.

.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

major propz and please do Black history and not just (Black) American history

64.

monhol

Thursday, March 6, 2008 /

i read about this. i have a book called amazing women in history and the rosa parks story is in and they do mention this lady but not by name and only brief. i was disappointed when i read that what rosa parks did was a set up and was planned in advance. i hate to say rosa did not just stay in her seat it was planned and her husband did not want her to participate. he thought it would be dangerous. also this lady claudette covin was said to be pregnant at the time and did not have a husband and they did not want to use what happened to her to start the boycott. she was 15 and pregnant and that would not look good on paper. it was agreed upon that the one to refuse to give up her seat had to married, and also have a job. it would look better on paper. sad but true and that was the era they lived in. i am glad she has been recognized. sorry that it took so long. she should have gotten much and i believe more recognition as parks because like i said rosas was a set up. no disrespect to rosa because she was in the struggle along with her husband. it was rosas idea to be the one to do it. rosa was not a coward. but the truth is the truth, there is nothing we can do to change that. something great did come out of it.

65.

Tiffany

Friday, March 7, 2008 /

wow, I just learned something!

66.

ja

Friday, March 7, 2008 /

I was hoping you all were going to get on this. I been gon for a min because I didnt like some of the comments content, but this is on point

67.

JUDAH

Friday, March 7, 2008 /

@63

I agree. Black American history always has an air of subservience and confusion to it. It always seems to revolve around some type of struggle to concoct a relevance for ourselves in relation to white people. Real black history transcends all this contrived, orchestrated nonsense.

68.

NUNYA BUSINESS

Friday, March 7, 2008 /

i knew about her also, i had to do research in school and found out about her, she was pregnant and her father was a alcoholic and some pp thought she wouldnt make a good person to spotlight on. its so much more the opublic dnt know about and its sad. just like medgar evers, which we hardly ever hear about him and countless others who are never mentioned.

69.

Tina4rmN.Oeast

Friday, March 7, 2008 /

Yep, i first learned about her 3yrs ago in college. I love how you are putting our history on blast. This is such a positive website!!!!!!!!!!!!!

70.

joenell

Friday, March 7, 2008 /

Took a course taught by Julian Bond last spring @ Univ. of Virginia - we spent about 2 weeks talking about her role in the civil rights movement/bus boycott. Quite a class, and quite a lady; thanks for acknowledging her. This is why I love this site.

71.

MISS LADY

Saturday, March 8, 2008 /

Thank you CL! I knew about her and Im glad you spotlighted her because not a lot of people do. CL droppin celeb news and knowledge!!! LOVIN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

72.

New_Orleans Finest

Sunday, March 9, 2008 /

Thanks Concrete Loop for the real deal scoop on our history! 365BlacksAlive!

#33 Thanks for a new piece of Knowledge added to my frame of mind and AA history of thinking

And I heard something mentioned in the biopic about Rosa Parks-the one that Angela Bassett played the lead in. they vaguely mentioned the young woman, but never said her name or anything. But, I heard and told this story to my lil sister about 4 years or so ago, back when that controversy about what Cedric the Entertainers character (in Barber Shop- Back in Business) said about Dr. King and white women

73.

BLACKBEAUTY

Friday, March 14, 2008 /

I am happy to hear her story about what happened to her and her not getting the praise and credit that Rosa Park got all these years is sad. I am disappointed in our people that she was forced to quit schoolI really think the reason she wasnt given the praise is becasue she is darker than Rosa Parks doesnt have the long hair our people even then are so hung up on color and hair Its a sad thing I hear about it every other day myself I not a dark skin sista but I still deal with the issue because I am brown Im not light skin I dont have the hair Im just like her, Sista I think after all these years you deserve your CREDIT and an APPOLOGY for making you feel like you did something wrong by going to jail and having a baby at a young age ..

74.

J. Dakar » Black History Month

Friday, June 13, 2008 /

[...] has probably heard of Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King, but how many have heard of Claudette Colvin, who, at 15, did the same thing Rosa Parks did nine months prior? Or Henrietta Lacks, who was the [...]