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First Black Woman Arrested For Giving Up Her Seat Speaks Out

Did you know that the actual first black female arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person was a 15-year-old girl by the name of Claudette Colvin?

NPR gathered a few facts on her story a few years back and among other reasons, she said she believes her dark skin played a part in her lack of recognition for the brave act. Take a look below.

via NPR

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.

In addition to sharing her story, Ms. Colvin also opened up about why she feels her story didn’t receive more recognition. One of the widely-speculated reasons not mentioned in this article was that she was pregnant at the time.

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.”

Were you in the know about this little known black history fact?

Photo Credit: NPR



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