Colorism is a huge problem among the black community. When the Civil Rights Movement erupted in the in 1950s, the NAACP wanted an African American woman with a lighter complexion to be the face of the protests against only giving colored people a back seat in the bus. That is why during Black History Month, we must remember who Claudette Colvin was. Although she is not as popular as Rosa Parks, she was the first to refuse to sit in the back of the bus.
Born in the South in Alabama, an area that was highly racist, Claudette’s family didn’t own a car, so they relied heavily on public transportation. She was only a teenager, a student at Booker T. Washington High School, when she boldly took her stand for justice. It was nine months before Rosa Parks did. "The bus was getting crowded and I remember him (the bus driver) looking through the rear view mirror asking her to get up out of her seat, which she didn't," said a classmate at the time, Annie Larkins Price. "She didn't say anything. She just continued looking out the window. She decided on that day that she wasn't going to move."
"I'd moved for white people before," Colvin says. But this time, she was thinking of the slavery fighters she had read about recently during Negro History Week in February. "The spirit of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth was in me. I didn't get up." She was arrested and jailed, but soon after her mother and minister bailed her out.
Many black leaders did not promote her case that much. They claimed she was too young and her family was too poor. Rosa Parks had more of a career going for her and she had light skinned. Plus, that same summer Claudette became pregnant for a married man. All of these strikes against her caused her to lose popularity for her courage. Claudette did not let this stop her from being successful though. She went on to be a Civil Rights Activist and medical professional. So before you think of Rosa Parks, remember, there was a Claudette Colvin.
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