Most people know the story of Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus. Few people know the courage of Claudette Colvin.
Claudette Colvin was ONLY 15 when she refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat. This was nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing catapulting the civil rights movement forward.
Most people know about the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, but little known is that many women refused to give up their seats. Most women were fined and quietly went away.
Claudette Colvin did NOT quietly go away.
Claudette had been learning in her school about slavery and the Underground Railroad. Heroes like Harriet Tubman sparked conversations about current day 1955 segregation laws. These stories would help her summon the courage to do something when riding home on the bus one day.
These injustices and her own experiences inspired her that fateful day.
The bus driver told her to move and she refused. She shook as the bus stopped and they waited as the driver summoned the police. When the police arrived they hauled her off the bus, her schoolbooks scuttling to the ground in the process. She would spend her first night in jail.
All of this for exercising the same constitutional rights she was being taught at the school she was going home on the bus from.
Colvin would later join three other women and challenge the segregation laws in court. Their court case would successfully overturn bus segregation laws in all of Alabama.
Courage isn’t always bravery on a battlefield or rescuing someone from a burning building. Sometimes courage is defined by standing up, or in Claudette’s case sitting down, for yourself and what’s right.
By: Jeremy Bader
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...