Before Rosa Parks there was a girl named Claudette Colvin. Most people don’t recognize the name because they don’t know who she is, yet. On March 2, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, the 15 year old refused to move to the back of the bus for a white person. After being asked why she didn’t move, she stated that she paid the fair and that it was her constitutional right. Two police officers arrested her for violating the state’s segregation laws. After being in jail for several hours, she was bailed out by her minister.
Later on, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) wanted to use Colvin to challenge segregation laws and become the face of their brand. They soon changed their minds after considering her age. At the time, she was also pregnant. The NAACP thought the young mother would attract negative attention to their cause. With being pregnant at such a young age and violating laws, this gave her a bad reputation. This made it harder for her to find jobs and make a living.
She became one of four plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case. In 1956, the court ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus laws were unconstitutional.
Two years later, Colvin had moved to New York and gave birth to her second son. She worked as a nurse aid in a nursing home. In 2004, she retired.