Dead People You Should Know: Claudette Colvin

Some things you learn about are not necessarily true. Did you know that Rosa Parks was not the first African American to refuse to give her seat up on a bus to a white traveler? Claudette Colvin protested to give her seat up on the bus nine months before Rosa Parks did.

When Claudette Colvin was younger, she lived in a very poor neighborhood in Montgomery, Alabama. She was an outstanding student in school. She received a majority of A’s from her teachers. Colvin was a driven student and a bright girl. She even wanted to become the president of the United States someday.

One day when Colvin was riding home on the bus, her bus driver asked her to give up her seat to a white woman. Something must have risen in Colvin telling her she had to defend herself and her dignity because, she said, "It's my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it's my constitutional right." She certainly stood up for herself. I don’t know about you, but I do not think I would have the courage to stand up for myself in a situation like that. A newspaper called Newsweek later interviewed Colvin. She told Newsweek, "I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, 'Sit down girl!' I was glued to my seat.” Newsweek also interviewed her attorney, Fred Gray. He said, "Claudette gave all of us moral courage. If she had not done what she did, I am not sure that we would have been able to mount the support for Mrs. Parks.”

Claudette Colvin is such an inspiration to me, especially since she was only fifteen when all this happened to her. Later in her life, she was arrested multiple times for violating segregation laws. Colvin never stopped doing what she thought was right, and she had no limit on how far she would go to get what she wanted.

Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow. 
~Langston Hughes
Full profile

More Videos

Recently uploaded

Search Schools

Find a school channel on the Fusfoo high school digital network.

Log In / Sign Up

Join the Fusfoo high school digital network now to follow all of your favorite channels and creators.