Did You Know Rosa Parks Wasn’t the First to Refuse to Sit in the Back of the Bus?

Did You Know Rosa Parks Wasn’t the First to Refuse to Sit in the Back of the Bus?

Claudette Colvin (1954)

Today is the day people remember Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white person on December 1st, 1955. But before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin.

Nine months before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin, a 15-year old black girl who was the first person to be arrested for refusing to sit in the back of the bus. The year was 1955. She was one of five women included in a federal court case, Browder v. Gayle (1956), which found that bus segregation in Alabama was unconstitutional. It went to the Supreme Court of the United States and was upheld.

Her achievement went unpublicized because she was a teenager and became pregnant while unmarried. Black leaders worried about her representing their cause.

Colvin grew up in Montgomery, Alabama in 1939 and was a student at a segregated high school. She was returning home from school on the bus on March 2, 1955 where she was sitting in the middle section. Several white people got on the bus and were standing. The bus driver ordered Colvin and three other black men to give up their seats, and move to the back of the bus as was the law. The others complied.

Colvin refused[…]

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