Claudette Colvin Biography,Age,Young,Son,Book,Bus Incident and Death

Claudette Colvin Biography

Claudette Colvin is an American nurse who is well known for her the pioneering of the Civil Rights Movement. She was arrested on 22 March 1995 in Montgomery, Alabama at the age of 15. She was accused of refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded, segregated bus.

Before, she acted a few months before the widely known incident in which Rosa Parks, secretary of the local chapter of the NAACP, played the lead role, sparking  the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began later that year. Colvin was one of the five plaintiffs originally included in the federal court case filed by civil rights attorney Fred Gray on 1 February 1956, as Browder v. Gayle, to challenge bus segregation in the city.

She testified before the three-judge panel that heard the case in the United States District Court. The judges determined that the state and local laws requiring bus segregation in Alabama were unconstitutional on 13 June 1956.

On 17 December 1956, the case went to the United States Supreme Court on appeal by the state, and it upheld the District Court ruling. Colvin was the last witness to testify. Three days later after the court hearing, the Supreme Court issued an order to Montgomery and the state of Alabama to end bus segregation, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was called off.

Despite Colvin’s pioneering efforts for many years, Montgomery’s black leaders did not publicize her efforts. Despite her being an unmarried woman at her teenage age, she was also reported to be pregnant for a married man. Colvin has said, “Young people think Rosa Parks just sat down on a bus and ended segregation, but that wasn’t the case at all.” Her case helped pave the way.

Claudette Colvin Age

Colvin was born on 5 September 1939 in Montgomery, Alabama, United States. As of 2018, she is 79 years old.

Claudette Colvin Young

She was adopted by Q.P. and Mary Anne Colvin. Her father mowed lawns and did other yard-works while her mother worked as a maid.

She was brought up in a poor black neighborhood of Montgomery, Alabama. At the age of four, Colvin was at a retail store when some white boys entered and asked if they could touch hands so as to compare their colors.

As soon as her mother heard and saw her stretching her hands, she slapped Colvin on her face and told her that she was not allowed to touch the white boys.

Claudette Clovin Young and Today
Claudette Clovin Young and Today

Claudette Colvin Son

She has two sons who are called Raymond Colvin and Randy Colvin.

Before Rosa Parks

Few people know the story of Claudette Colvin: When she was 15, she refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat to a white person — nine months before Rosa Parks did the very same thing.

Most people know about Parks and the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott that began in 1955, but few know that there were a number of women who refused to give up their seats on the same bus system. Most of the women were quietly fined, and no one heard much more.

Colvin was the first to really challenge the law.

Now a 69-year-old retiree, Colvin lives in the Bronx. She remembers taking the bus home from high school on March 2, 1955, as clear as if it were yesterday.

The bus driver ordered her to get up and she refused, saying she’d paid her fare and it was her constitutional right. Two police officers put her in handcuffs and arrested her. Her school books went flying off her lap.

“All I remember is that I was not going to walk off the bus voluntarily,” Colvin says.

It was Negro history month, and at her segregated school, they had been studying black leaders like Harriet Tubman, the runaway slave who led more than 70 slaves to freedom through the network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. They were also studying about Sojourner Truth, a former slave who became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

The class had also been talking about the injustices they were experiencing daily under the Jim Crow segregation laws, like not being able to eat at a lunch counter.

“We couldn’t try on clothes,” Colvin says. “You had to take a brown paper bag and draw a diagram of your foot … and take it to the store. Can you imagine all of that in my mind? My head was just too full of black history, you know, the oppression that we went through. It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn’t get up.”

Colvin also remembers the moment the jail door closed. It was just like a Western movie, she says.

“And then I got scared, and panic comes over me, and I started crying. Then I started saying the Lord’s Prayer,” she says.

‘Twice Toward Justice’

Now her story is the subject of a new book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.

Author Phil Hoose says that despite a few articles about her in the Birmingham press and in USA Today, and brief mentions in some books about the civil rights movement, most people don’t know about the role Colvin played in the bus boycotts.

Hoose couldn’t get over that there was this teenager, nine months before Rosa Parks, “in the same city, in the same bus system, with very tough consequences, hauled off the bus, handcuffed, jailed and nobody really knew about it.”

He also believes Colvin is important because she challenged the law in court, one of four women plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, the court case that successfully overturned bus segregation laws in Montgomery and Alabama.

There are many reasons why Claudette Colvin has been pretty much forgotten. She hardly ever told her story when she moved to New York City. In her new community, hardly anyone was talking about integration; instead, most people were talking about black enterprises, black power, and Malcolm X.

When asked why she is little known and why everyone thinks only of Rosa Parks, Colvin says the NAACP and all the other black organizations felt Parks would be a good icon because “she was an adult. They didn’t think teenagers would be reliable.”

She also says Parks had the right hair and the right look.

“Her skin texture was the kind that people associate with the middle class,” says Colvin. “She fit that profile.”

David Garrow, a historian and the author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says people may think that Parks’ action was spontaneous, but black civic leaders had been thinking about what to do about the Montgomery buses for years.

After Colvin’s arrest, she found herself shunned by parts of her community. She experienced various difficulties and became pregnant. Civil rights leaders felt she was an inappropriate symbol for a test case.

Parks was the secretary of the NAACP. She was well-known and respected and, says Garrow, Parks had a “natural gravitas” and was an “inherently impressive person.”

At the same time, Garrow believes attention to Colvin is a healthy corrective, because “the real reality of the movement was often young people and often more than 50 percent women.” The images you most often see are men in suits.

Hoose says he believes Colvin understands the pragmatism that pushed Parks to the fore, but “on the other hand, she did it.”

Hoose says the stories of Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are wonderful, but those are the stories of people in their 30s and 40s. Colvin was 15. Hoose feels his book will bring a fresh teen’s perspective to the struggle to end segregation.

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Claudette Colvin Twice Toward Justice | Claudette Colvin Book

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice is a 2009 young adult nonfiction book by Phillip Hoose, recounting the experiences of Claudette Colvin in Montgomery, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement.

Originally published: 20 January 2009
Author: Phillip Hoose
Page count: 144
Country: United States of America
Awards: John Newbery Medal, National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Claudette Colvin Quotes

  1. Back then, as a teenager, I kept thinking, Why don’t the adult around here just say something? Say it so they know we don’t accept segregation? I knew then and I know now that, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can’t sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, ‘This is not right.’ And I did. Claudette Colvin
  2. I knew then and I know now when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. Claudette Colvin
  3. I just couldn’t move. History had me glued to the seat. Claudette Colvin

For more of his quotes:

Claudette Colvin Funeral

As of 2019, she is still alive and kicking. She is healthy and has a family that she takes care off.

Claudette Facebook

She is not on Facebook, this information will soon be updated.

Claudette Colvin Twitter

Claudette Colvin Instagram

Claudette Colvin News

Fighting For Her Rightful Place In History: The Claudette Colvin Story

Rosa Parks has been credited with being the mother of the civil rights movement. But it was not her arrest that led to the desegregation of the buses in Montgomery Alabama. It was because of a 15-year-old girl named Claudette Colvin, whose act of civil disobedience 9 months earlier led to a lawsuit and ultimately a Supreme Court ruling that changed the laws of a city and eventually a nation.

In September 2016, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened to great fanfare. Colvin said she was surprised and disappointed that she was not invited to the opening dedication. Claudette did not have a place of honor in the museum for her act of bravery.

Instead, a small picture of Colvin was attached to a larger display of Rosa, her sister Gloria Laster said.

Claudette says there is a section in the museum dedicated to Parks, which she doesn’t want to take away. But Colvin says her family’s goal is to get the historic record right, and compel officials to include this very significant part of history.

“All we want is the truth, why does history fail to get it right?” Laster, said. “Had it not been for Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith there may not have been a Thurgood Marshall, a Martin Luther King or a Rosa Parks.”

In an exclusive interview in November, 2016, Colvin told her story to 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins.

“A lot of people ask the same question, ‘What did Rosa do that was so different?’” Colvin said. “I said I paid my fare, it is my constitutional right. I was manhandled backwards off the bus.”

1010 WINS has repeatedly reached out to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, but to date, has had no response.

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