MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The City of Montgomery will honor and celebrate civil rights activist Claudette Colvin Friday.
About nine months before Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on Montgomery bus. She was arrested on March 2, 1955. Because Colvin was just 15 at the time, the NAACP decided that Rosa Parks would be a better model to fight the segregated bus system. Parks' arrest sparked the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The tribute to Colvin will include speaker Margaret Burch, who was a passenger on that same bus in 1955. She will be joined by Attorney Fred Gray, who represented Colvin and other plaintiffs in a case where the court ruled that Montgomery's segregated bus system was unconstitutional and there will be a short film called, "A Letter to Claudette Colvin" by Atlanta film director Victoria Wilson.
"We want to celebrate her (Claudette Colvin) every March 2 and bring awareness to who she was because a lot of people don't know about her," said Ka-Santa Sanders, a member of King Hill Community Development Corp.
The nonprofit group is organizing the event along with Montgomery City Councilman Tracy Larkin and Montgomery County Commissioner Isaiah Sankey. Last year, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange proclaimed March 2 as Claudette Colvin Day.
The King Hill Community Development Corp. has a long-term project to redevelop King Hill and the surrounding area called the King Hill 2020 Project.
"It's a community revitalization-beautification project and the goal is to make King Hill a thriving community again," Sanders said.
The organization is renovating Colvin's rundown childhood home and hopes to transform it into the Claudette Colvin Park and Garden.
"Claudette Colvin empowers me and motivates me because she did this at 15-years-old," Sanders said.
Colvin is now a 78-year-old retiree living in New York. She moved to New York in the late 1950s and worked 35 years as a nurse's aide at a Manhattan nursing home.