The Erasure of Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin

Birthday: Sept. 5, 1939

Age of incident: 15 years old

Age of death: 83

    On September 5, 1939, Claudette Colvin was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, which is the place where Claudette committed the same offense as Rosa Parks. However, let’s dive deeper into her story. 

    After her father abandoned the family, Claudette’s mother couldn’t financially support her children. Because of this, Claudette and her younger sister, Delphine, were taken in by their great aunt and uncle. Only a few days after Claudette’s 13th birthday, Delphine passed away due to polio. Though not so long after, Chaludette attended high school. There, she formed a close relationship with her mentor, Rosa Parks.

    Claudette Colvin relied on the bus to get her to and from school. This is because her family did not own a car at that time. One day, she was on the bus. Then, a white passenger got on. The bus driver told four ladies, including Claudette, to move and make space for the white passenger. The other three moved except for Claudette. Right after, a black pregnant lady named Mrs. Hamiton sat beside Colvin. Once again, the bus driver told Mrs. Hamiton and Claudette to move. However, they both refused to get up. As a result, the bus driver called the police.

    When the police arrived, they convinced a black man sitting behind the two to move and make room for Mrs. Hamiton. But still, Claudette refused to move. Therefore, she was forcibly removed and arrested. Around nine months after the incident, Rosa Parks had been arrested for the same offense as Claudette.

    While Claudette was in the police car, the policemen made sexual comments about her. They took turns guessing Claudette’s bra size on the way to the police station. 


There are several reasons why Rosa Parks received more attention than Claudette.

  1. Claudette didn’t have “good hair” like Rosa Parks did.
  2. Claudette wasn’t fair-skinned.
  3. Claudette was a fifteen-year-old. Rosa Parks was around twice her age.
  4. Claudette was pregnant at the time.

Although Claudette Colvin did not get as much recognition as Rosa Parks, Claudette is still known, recognized, and acknowledged by many people for what she did at the age of 15. If it hadn’t been for Colvin, there might not be a Rosa Parks.