Claudette Colvin, Civil Rights, African American News, African American History, Black History, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Before Rosa Parks, A Teenager Defied Segregation On An Alabama Bus | NPR Rosa Parks is well-known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Ala., in December 1955.



But Parks’ civil rights protest did have a precedent: Fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, a student from a black high school in Montgomery, had refused to move from her bus seat nine months earlier. However, Colvin is not nearly as well-known, and certainly not as celebrated, as Parks.

Montgomery was segregated, which meant that black people couldn’t use the dressing rooms at department stores or ride in the front of the bus. Colvin didn’t like that.

“I knew that this was a double standard,” she says. “This was unfair.”

Claudette Colvin, Civil Rights, African American News, African American History, Black History, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Claudette Colvin, Civil Rights, African American News, African American History, Black History, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | Courtesy of Claudette Colvin


Browder v. Gayle, 142 F. Supp. 707 (1956), was a case heard before a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on Montgomery and Alabama state bus segregation laws. The panel consisted of Middle District of Alabama Judge Frank Minis Johnson, Northern District of Alabama Judge Seybourn Harris Lynne, and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Rives. On June 5, 1956, the District Court ruled 2-1, with Lynne dissenting, that bus segregation is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment protections for equal treatment.

The state and city appealed, and the decision was summarily affirmed by the United States Supreme Court on November 13, 1956. A motion for clarification and for rehearing was denied on December 17, 1956. (Wikipedia).