Before Rosa Parks…There was Claudette Colvin

📖I am currently reading about Claudette Colvin who was born on this day, September 5, 1939 in Birmingham, Alabama.

On March 2, 1955 after an early release from school Claudette and her friends boarded the Highland Gardens bus. 👇🏾
Now let us remember what time period this is…Jim Crow era. In Montgomery and other Southern cities and towns it was standard practice, though not required by law, that the front of the bus was reserved for white people and as more white people boarded towards the middle black people had to give up their seats.

On this particular day in March there were no white people sitting in the front of the bus. Claudette and her friends took seats about midway on the bus. As the front of bus began to fill up, a white woman stood in the aisle where Claudette and her friends sat.

Busdriver: I need those seats.

Claudette’s friends move to the back.

Busdriver: Why are you still sittin’ there?

Claudette:

White rider: You got to get up.

Claudette:

Girl in back: She ain’t got to do nothin’ but stay black and die.

Bus Driver: Gimme that seat! Get up, gal!

Claudette:

The bus driver then stops the bus and yells for a transit police officer. The police officer ordered Claudette and a pregnant woman to stand up.

Claudette:

The transit police officer informed the bus driver that he did not have the authority to arrest Claudette and left the bus. One block over two police officers boarded and ordered Claudette to get up.

Claudette: (Crying) It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right!▪
👇🏾
“One cop grabbed one of my hands and his partner grabbed the other and they pulled me straight up out of my seat. My books went flying…I went limp…I was too smart to fight back. They started dragging me backwards off the bus. One of them kicked me…I kept screaming over and over, “It’s my constitutional right!”

Claudette Colvin was fifteen years old on March 2, 1955. Claudette was one of four plantiffs in Browder v. Gayle (1956) which ruled that required segregation on city buses in Montgomery violated due process and equal protection of the law.

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