TheRosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger was the catalyst for the largest anti-racism civil rights movement in history in the United States. However, Parks was not the first to rebel. Nine months ago, another young woman put up the same resistance.
On March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin was returning from class with some of her classmates on a Montgomery bus when the driver grabbed the seats of a white passenger. When the other girls got up and gave up their seats, Colvin remained rooted in place until two police officers pulled her out and handcuffed her.
“My mother asked me to keep quiet about what I had done. He told me, ‘Let Rosa be the only one.’ White people won’t bother her, they’ll like her fair skin better than yours »»
His arrest made local headlines and caught the attention of NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) leaders, including Rosa Parks and a young priest named Martin Luther King, Jr., who specifically made his first foray into the political arena in defense of Colvin.
But the symbolic plant of the young woman did not unleash any revolution. African-American leaders did not trust that a rebellious teenage girl from the city’s poorest black neighborhood would be a powerful enough image to embody a major street movement. A year later they turned Parks into a champion.
“It wasn’t that Parks’ act was planned, but after hearing about Colvin’s case, it certainly made her wonder what she would do if she found herself in the same situation,” Parks biographer Jane Theoharis says.
Fate gave Colvin a completely different ending for Parks. As the activist became an icon and gained international fame for her heroic work, Colvin was identified as a troublemaker and suffered Authoritarianism And when she was barely 16, she got pregnant by an older married man. However, the following year, in 1956, his testimony was central to a lawsuit to end racial segregation on public transportation.
Colvin made herself clear in 2009 in The New York Times That he understood that they chose Parkes, whose skin was lighter. “My mother asked me to keep quiet about what I had done. He told me, ‘Let Rosa be the only one.’ Eggs won’t bother her, they’ll love her skin better than yours.
Fate gave her a life that was not easy: she suffered from ‘bullying’ and got pregnant, at the age of 16, from a married man.
In his autobiography, Twice towards justiceColvin insists that he understood then that civil rights leaders chose to raise the profile of Rosa Parks. “They wanted someone who, I think, would impress white people, be an icon. And they didn’t think a dark-skinned, low-income teen without a high school diploma could be that.”
Although Colvin’s gesture has long been recognized and praised, his police file for the 1955 crash wasn’t erased until last year. On her day, she was accused of violating segregation laws, disturbing public order, and assaulting a police officer. She pleaded not guilty but was convicted.
On November 24, a judge in Montgomery, Alabama, ruled that this arrest record be expunged. Colvin’s lawyers explained that he was doing so for “justice” and recognition of his critical role in the civil rights movement. “I don’t do it myself, I’m 82,” she said. “I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to understand that their grandmother stood up for something important, that it changed our lives so much, changed attitudes”
This is how apartheid in buses ended
← On December 3, 1955, two days after arrest Rosa Gardensmass mobilization is beginning to take shape that will explode in the form of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
→ From day one, support has been the majority among the black community, which makes up three-quarters of all users. No African American took the bus.
→ Long lines of workers can be seen for days walking on the side of the road for several kilometers to their jobs and returning home after exhausting days of work as a service in the fields or at home.
→ Soon the NAACP, the association that defended the rights of people of color, designed a parallel transportation system, organized from the various churches in the city and paid for by the donations of parishioners, consisting of carrying out shared transportation services in private vehicles.
The boycott, which lasted 381 days, brought the Montgomery public bus system to the brink of bankruptcy and was not considered complete until Mayor Gayle on December 20, 1956, formally implemented a Supreme Court order that deemed racial segregation in public transportation unconstitutional.