The 15-y.o. who refused to give up her bus seat for a white woman—9 months before Rosa Parks
Wikimedia Commons

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks made history by refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her action made her into a household name in the U.S., but she was not the first black person to stand up—or rather, stay seated—for racial justice on the buses of Montgomery. Nine months earlier, on March 2 that same year, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin had been arrested for doing exactly the same thing.


Colvin was riding a public bus home from school with three of her friends, who were also black. They were seated a little more than halfway toward the back of the bus, but all the seats on the bus were full, and a white woman ended up standing in the aisle next to them.

RELATED: The absolutely wild story from the civil rights movement you didn't hear in history class.

"The white people were always seated at the front of the bus and the black people were seated at the back of the bus," Colvin told the BBC in 2018. "The bus driver had the authority to assign the seats, so when more white passengers got on the bus, he asked for the seats."

Colvin's three friends reluctantly got up and moved to the back of the bus to stand, but Colvin refused to move. "I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, 'Sit down girl!'" she later told Newsweek. "I was glued to my seat."

Colvin told the BBC that she would have given up her seat for an elderly person, but it was a young white woman she was being asked to move for. She told the driver, "It's my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it's my constitutional right."

For her refusal to give up her seat, two police officers handcuffed her and hauled her off the bus. She spent several hours in jail before her mother and her pastor arrived and paid her bail. "I was really afraid," she said of being in jail, "because you just didn't know what white people might do at that time." She and her family stayed up all night in fear of retaliation, her dad ready with his shotgun in case the Ku Klux Klan showed up.

She pled not guilty, but the court ruled against her and she was put on probation. Later, however, she would be one of the four plaintiffs in the landmark Browder v. Gayle case, which determined that Montgomery's bus segregation was unconstitutional.

RELATED: Medgar Evers' life and death reminds us how recent blatant, violent racism is in America

If Colvin refused to give up her seat before Rosa Parks, why didn't she become the household name and face of the civil rights movement?

One reason was because of her age. Her story was only covered in a few local papers, and the NAACP didn't publicize it further because they didn't want a teenager to be the symbol of resistance. Rosa Parks, who happened to be a secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, made a better poster person for the cause.

Additionally, Colvin became pregnant a few months after the incident, further pushing her away from the spotlight.

But her action on that bus, without fanfare, remained an important influence in the burgeoning civil rights movement. "Claudette gave all of us moral courage," Colvin's former attorney, Fred Gray, told Newsweek. "If she had not done what she did, I am not sure that we would have been able to mount the support for Mrs. Parks."

Claudette Colvin is still alive, living in New York as a retired nurse aide. She is 80 years old, and a living reminder of how recently our country not only had laws that denied black Americans basic civil rights, but enforced them.

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels.com

The Delta Baby Cafe in Sunflower County, Mississippi is providing breastfeeding assistance where it's needed most.

Mississippi has the third lowest rate of breastfeeding in America. Only 70% of infants are ever-breastfed in the state, compared to 84% nationally.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life. However, in Mississippi, less than 40% are still breastfeeding at six months.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via msleja / TikTok

In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

We've heard from U.S. intelligence officials for at least four years that other countries are engaging in disinformation campaigns designed to destabilize the U.S. and interfere with our elections. According to a recent New York Times article, there is ample evidence of Russia attempting to push American voters away from Joe Biden and toward Donald Trump via the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, which has created a network of fake user accounts and a website that billed itself as a "global news organization."

The problem isn't just that such disinformation campaigns exist. It's that they get picked up and shared by real people who don't know they're spreading propaganda from Russian state actors. And it's not just pro-Trump content that comes from these accounts. Some fake accounts push far-left propaganda and disinformation in order to skew perceptions of Biden. Sometimes they even share uplifting content to draw people in, while peppering their feeds with fake news or political propaganda.

Most of us read comments and responses on social media, and many of us engage in discussions as well. But how do we know if what we're reading or who we're engaging with is legitimate? It's become vogue to call people who seem to be pushing a certain agenda a "bot," and sometimes that's accurate. What about the accounts that have a real person behind them—a real person who is being paid to publish and push misinformation, conspiracy theories, or far-left or far-right content?

Keep Reading Show less