Sunday, February 08, 2015

Forgotten Women of Black History: Claudette Colvin

Right now I think I hear a collective "Claudette who?"

Claudette Colvin was a US Civil Rights activist who preceded the much more famous Rosa Parks by almost a year. For the very same "anti-social" behavior.

On March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin became the first person arrested for resisting segregation in the public transit system of Birmingham, Alabama. It was too bad for her that she was an unmarried pregnant teenager at the time -- because of that, the local NAACP was reluctant to make her the test case. They preferred to wait a while, until the more socially-acceptable Rosa Parks made her own scene on the bus.

Colvin, however, kind of had the last laugh: She was one of the original plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, which resulted in the finding that segregation on city buses was unconstitutional in the United States, a decision that was ultimately affirmed by the US Supreme Court.

It's too bad that she never really got the respect and the accolades that she deserved. I hope that by publicizing her courageous stand, even at this late date, we can take a small step in correcting that.