City celebrates civil rights activist Claudette Colvin

City celebrates civil rights activist Claudette Colvin
Claudette Colvin was just 15 years old when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus.
“If Claudette Colvin had not done what she did on March 2, 1955, Ms. Parks may never have done what she did on December 1, 1955,” said Fred Gray, Colvin’s attorney. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
“If Claudette Colvin had not done what she did on March 2, 1955, Ms. Parks may never have done what she did on December 1, 1955,” said Fred Gray, Colvin’s attorney. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Most have heard about the stand Rosa Parks made on Montgomery bus which sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, but you may not have known that she was actually the second woman to make that stand.

Claudette Colvin was just 15 years old when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. That happened roughly nine months before Rosa Parks followed in her footsteps.

"If Claudette Colvin had not done what she did on March 2, 1955, Ms. Parks may never have done what she did on December 1, 1955," said Fred Gray, Colvin's attorney.

So, why didn't the Montgomery Bus Boycott start with Colvin's arrest? Well, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), decided that Parks would be a better model to fight the segregated bus system. Parks was 42 at the time, married and the secretary of the NAACP. Colvin, on the other hand, was only 15.

Mayor Todd Strange announced this week that the city would have a ceremony to honor Colvin and her role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Margaret Burch, who was on the bus with Colvin the day of her arrest, spoke at the ceremony.

"I was coming from work and she was coming from school and when the bus man asked her to move, she never moved," Burch said.

Burch was sitting in the back, watching the event unfold.

"She just kept sitting there and he kept saying get up get up and he kept hollering at her," Burch said.

Gray said that Colvin refusing to give up her seat changed the course of history.

"The whole history of the civil rights movement may have been different but for what Claudette Colvin did," Gray said.

Colvin is now 78 years old and living in New York.

On Friday, the mayor announced that March 2 will be Claudette Colvin day in Montgomery.

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