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Abernathy and all the distinguished leaders of this nation and all of you wonderful Freedom Fighters, my brothers and sisters and my children — because I have been called the mother of this — you see before you now a victim of all that has been perpetrated against one to make us less than human. As a very small child, I had to hide from the Ku Klux Klan to keep from getting killed or thinking I was going to be killed. My family were deprived of the land that they owned and driven off it after they had worked and paid for it. I did not have the opportunity to attend school as many have and I am handicapped in every way, but I am expected to a first-class citizen. I want to be one. I have struggled hard during my early days.
I didn't want to discuss it with them," she says.
I felt inspired by these women because my teacher taught us about them in so much detail," she says. Colvin and her friends were sitting in a row a little more than half way down the bus - two were on the right side of the bus and two on the left - and a white passenger was standing in the aisle between them. Like Colvin, Parks was commuting home and was seated in the "coloured section" of the bus.
Claudette colvin: the year-old who came before rosa parks
I can still vividly hear the click of those keys. Colvin was the first person to be arrested for challenging Montgomery's bus segregation policies, so her story made a few local papers - but nine months later, the same act of defiance by Rosa Parks was reported all over the world. More from the BBC. Related Topics. On the night of Parks' arrest, the Women's Political Council WPCa group of black women working for civil rights, began circulating flyers calling for a boycott of the bus system.
Two policemen boarded the bus and asked Colvin why she wouldn't give up her seat. But what I do remember is when they asked me to stick my arms out the window and that's when they handcuffed me," Colvin says. Today their boycott, modelled on the one in Montgomery, is largely forgotten - but it was a milestone in achieving equality.
The organisation didn't want a teenager in the role, she says. A year later, on 20 Decemberthe US Supreme Court ruled that segregation on the buses must end.
Inthe writer Phillip Hoose published a book that told her story in detail for the first time. Going to a segregated school had one advantage, she found - her teachers gave her a good grounding in black history.
Members of the community acted as lookouts, while Colvin's father sat up all night with a shotgun, in case the Ku Klux Klan turned up. Soon afterwards, on 5 December, 40, African-American bus passengers boycotted the system and that afternoon, black leaders met to form the Montgomery Improvement Association MIAelecting a young pastor, Martin Luther King Jr, as their president. Eclipsed by Parks, her act of defiance was largely ignored for many years. Long Re Black interest Inspiring stories. The legal case turned on the testimony of four plaintiffs, one of whom was Claudette Colvin.
When the white seats were filled, the driver, J Fred Black, asked Parks and three others to give up their seats. Three of the students had got up reluctantly and I remained sitting next to the window," she says.
After Colvin was released from prison, there were fears that her home would be attacked. On 2 MarchColvin and her friends finished their classes and were let out of school early. My mother knew I was disappointed with the system and all the injustice we were receiving and she said to me: 'Well, Claudette, you finally did it. However, some white passengers still refused to sit near a black person.
Speech at the alabama freedom march - march 25,
What was behind the Bristol bus boycott? Colvin says Parks had the right image to become the face of resistance to segregation because of her work with the NAACP. The driver wanted all of them to move to the back and stand so that the white passenger could sit. Under the twisted logic of segregation the white woman still couldn't sit down, as then white and black passengers would have been sharing a row of seats - and the whole point was that white passengers were meant to be closer to the front.
The problem arose because all the seats on the bus were taken. The driver kept on going but stopped when he reached a junction where a police squad car was waiting.
Instead of being taken to a juvenile detention centre, Colvin was taken to an adult jail and put in a small cell with nothing in it but a broken sink and a cot without a mattress. Like Colvin, Parks refused, and was arrested and fined. Colvin says that after Supreme Court made its decision, things slowly began to change. Tubman and Truth.
Colvin knew her very well. In Marchnine months before Rosa Parks defied segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, year-old Claudette Colvin did exactly the same thing.
I don't know how I got off that bus but the other students said they manhandled me off the bus and put me in the squad car. Fifty years have passed since campaigners overturned a ban on ethnic minorities working on buses in one British city. When Colvin moved to New York many years later to become a nurse, she didn't tell many people about the part she played in the civil rights movement.
Find out more. But Colvin told the driver she had paid her fare and that it was her constitutional right to remain where she was. Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth were both African Americans who sought the abolition of slavery Tubman was well known for helping fellow slaves escape slavery using the Underground Railroad Truth was a passionate campaigner who fought for women's rights, best known for her speech Ain't I a Woman?
Most of the people didn't have problems with us sitting on the bus, most New Yorkers cared about economic problems. The bus driver had the authority to as the seats, so when more white passengers got on the bus, he asked for the seats. Another factor was that before long Colvin became pregnant. She herself didn't talk about it much, but she spoke recently to the BBC. The churches, buses and schools were all segregated and you couldn't even go into the same restaurants," Claudette Colvin says. The boycott was very effective but the city still resisted complying with protesters' demands - an end to the policy preventing the hiring of black bus drivers and the introduction of first-come first-seated rule.
To sustain the boycott, communities organised carpools and the Montgomery's African-American taxi drivers charged only 10 cents - the same price as bus fare - for fellow African Americans.