Claudette Colvin: A Rosa Parks Story before the Rosa Parks Incident

Claudette Colvin was the first person to resist bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, preceding the Rosa Parks incident by nine months.

In 1955, Ms. Colvin was 15 years old when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white person, which violated local law. She was going home from school when she boarded a Capital Heights bus which, ironically, was the same place that Rosa Parks would board her bus. She was sitting in a area where Nubian-Melaninites would have to give up their seat if a white person was standing and move to the back. The bus driver ordered Ms. Colvin and two other Nubian-Melaninite passengers to get up and change seats. Upon her refusal, she was removed from the bus and arrested by two police officers.

Ms. Colvin later stated that when she refused to move that she was still thinking about a school paper that was written that day. It was about the prohibition against colored people trying on clothes in department stores as they were prohibited from using the dressing rooms.

Her classmate, Annie Price stated, "The bus was getting crowded and I remember the bus driver looking through the rear view mirror asking her to get up out of her seat, which she didn't. She was yelling it's my constitutional right. She decided on that day that she wasn't going to move." Price would later testify on Colvin's behalf.

Ms. Colvin was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from the bus all the while shouting that her constitutional rights were being violated.

Ms. Colvin, along with three other women, testified in a Montgomery federal court hearing about what happened that day on the bus. She eventually was not named in the lawsuit because the attorneys wanted to build a case on challenging the legality of bus segregation and she was charged with disorderly conduct.