Claudette Colvin was born on September 5, 1939, in Montgomery, Alabama. Colvin is a civil rights activist and pioneer of the 1950s U.S. civil rights movement. She’s famous for being arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded, segregated bus. This incident took place just nine months before the famous Rosa Parks sparked the 9055 Montgomery Bus Boycott. Colvin’s bravery helped start a civil rights trial to end bus segregation in the city. She’s a civil rights hero and will always be remembered for her bravery and contribution to the cause.
Claudette Colvin was born on September 5, 1939, in Montgomery, Alabama. Colvin’s subversive actions led to a trial, during which she testified before three judges. On June 13, 1956, it was determined that the state and local laws requiring bus segregation in Alabama were unconstitutional. Colvin’s testimony helped move the case to the United States Supreme Court, which later upheld the district court’s decision on November 13, 1956. This then also influenced the Montgomery bus boycott, which was called off after the Supreme Court’s ruling to end bus segregation in Alabama. Colvin moved to New York in 1958, where she found a job as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home in Manhattan. She worked there for 35 years until her retirement in 2004.
Although Colvin’s actions were a predecessor to the Montgomery Bus Boycott movement of 1955, she rarely told her story. Due to this, her actions were broadly overlooked when compared to contemporary activists like Rosa Parks. Colvin is nothing short of a civil rights hero and will always be remembered for her bravery and contribution to the cause.
Colvin refuses to give up her seat on a segregated bus.
Colvin helps overturn bus segregation laws in Alabama.
Colvin moves to New York and starts working as a nurse’s aide.
Colvin retires from her job.
Why We Love Claudette Colvin
She took action first
Rosa Parks is a national hero, and rightly so, but Colvin was the first black woman to protest bus segregation. She remained uncredited for her actions for years — presumably at the time being considered to be an unappealing icon when compared to Parks, due to her being pregnant and unmarried. This injustice is reflected in the fact that to this day, Colvin isn’t as known a figure as Parks is.
Her name was finally cleared
In 2021, 66 years after the charges were brought to the district court, Colvin's charges were dropped. Colvin’s arrest record and adjudication of delinquency were finally expunged.
Colvin is extremely brave. She knew that in 1955 she would be arrested for protesting segregation laws but she did anyway and helped pave the way for the overturning of segregation laws in Alabama.
5 Surprising Facts
She was arrested
Because of her protest on the bus, Colvin was arrested when she was just 15 years old.
She was not credited
Colvin was not credited by civil rights campaigners for her deed.
She had to move
Because of her involvement in the federal case, Colvin had to move to another state to find work.
She was disappointed
Colvin was disappointed that she did not get more recognition for her actions.
Statue of honor
Colvin is honored by a statue in Alabama that was unveiled in 2019.
Claudette Colvin FAQs
Why is Claudette Colvin not famous?
Her contributions were ignored.
Who was the first black person to refuse a seat?
Colvin was the first person to do so.
Did Claudette Colvin meet Rosa Parks?
No, she didn’t meet Parks.
Claudette Colvin’s birthday dates