When we think of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama back in the mid-50s, we naturally think of Rosa Parks. Ms. Parks was removed from a city bus and arrested after she refused to give up her seat to a white person. In doing so, she became one of the most famous people in the Civil Rights Movement.
But nine months before Ms. Parks was arrested, a teenager named Claudette Colvin also refused to give up her seat on the bus. She had been fuming about the way blacks were being treated on the bus every day, and wondered why they didn’t just speak up and refuse to take it. One day she’d had enough, and refused to budge when the driver ordered her to relinquish her seat to a white person. Claudette was dragged off the bus, handcuffed, taken to an adult jail instead of juvenile hall, and found guilty of breaking the segregation law. For her “crime” she was given a year of probation.
This book is a reminder that there were many people whose lives contributed to the ending of segregation. Some people were given a lot of credit and recognition; others were forgotten or overlooked. Claudette herself sized it up perfectly:
“When it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can’t sugarcoat it. You just have to take a stand and say, This is not right.”