Wed. Apr 8th, 2020

Black History – Who Sat in Front First?

"I knew why they chose Rosa" Parks instead of her as a symbol of the civil rights movement, Colvin says. "They thought I would be too militant for them."




Carla Calhoun

To quote Cedric The Entertainer in the movie Barbershop, “There was a whole lot of black people that sat on the bus and got thrown in jail long before Rosa Parks.”

Rosa Parks was named Mother of the Freedom Movement, but did you know that 15 year old Claudette Colvin started the movement nine months before Rosa Parks?

On March 2, 1955, young Claudette refused to move from her seat on a segregated bus. Claudette was dragged off the bus, arrested and thrown into an adult jail. Claudette paid her fare and she felt it was her constitutional right to board and have a seat on the bus.

Claudette testified in a landmark federal case, along with four other witnesses, in the Browder v. Gayle case which ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional. This landmark case ended the history of segregation on public transportation in Alabama and other American states.

Claudette is not often celebrated in the Civil Rights Movement and it is believed that she was not the ideal image. Claudette was darker in complexion, a minor, single and pregnant. In comparison, Rosa Parks had a light complexion, was 42 years old and married.

Rosa Parks was also a civil rights advocate and a NAACP member. She co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development to help youth reach their highest potential.

Rosa received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was the only living person to be honored with a holiday. In the United States, California and Missouri celebrate it on her birthday, February 4th and in Ohio and Oregon, it is celebrated on the day she was arrested, December 1st.

Both Rosa and Claudette were African American females who were instrumental in helping to ignite the Civil Rights Movement. (Excerpts from Black History Flash Cards)

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