Telling Claudette Colvin's Important Civil Rights Story

By Candice Frederick
December 17, 2015
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
twice toward justice / by Phillip Hoose.

Erika Paul, Pre-Professional in our Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, reflects on the significance of Civil Rights pioneer Claudette Colvin through a new display—sixty years after her courageous yet understated act:

Do we ever consider the contribution of teens during the Civil Rights Movement—who they were and what happened to them? We often remember leaders  such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, who made radical changes for the black community, but in fact teenagers during the Civil Rights Movement also made their mark in the  battle against inequality.

In March 1955 Claudette Colvin, 15, was pulled off a bus, handcuffed, and taken to jail because she refused to give up her seat for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. This event took place nine months before Rosa Parks became a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement. 

Today, Bronx resident Colvin, now 76, is celebrated in a new flash display in the Schomburg's Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division as the remarkable teenager who stood up for her rights. Through newspaper clippings, books, and photographs, Colvin's important story continues to be shared with audiences.