Claudette Colvin with Larry Mullins

The Claudette Colvin Story

March 02, 2018 - 2:37 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- On this day 63 years ago, a 15-year-old girl named Claudette Colvin defied the laws of the time and was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a Montgomery Alabama bus. Although Rosa Parks has been credited with being the mother of the civil rights movement, it was Colvin's case that led to a lawsuit and ultimately a Supreme Court ruling that changed the laws of a city and then a nation.

Today, Bronx Borough President Rubin Diaz Jr. honored this brave civil rights pioneer who has been living in the Bronx for decades.

In an exclusive interview with 1010 WINS Anchor Larry Mullins, Colvin recalls the day of her arrest. “I said I paid my fare, it is my constitutional right,” Colvin said. “I was manhandled backwards off the bus.”

From that interview, 1010 WINS has produced a documentary about Colvin and her story -- from a teenager to today.  

Colvin and at least three other teenage girls became the plaintiffs in a legal challenge against the city of Montgomery and the state of Alabama over their civil rights.

Parks, a mature woman who also worked as a secretary for the NAACP, was considered a better representation for the civil rights movement, and in particular, the historic bus boycotts which ensued. Parks' case would also end up in court.

However, it became bogged down in the state court system and therefore Colvin’s case (Browder vs. Gayle), became the lightning rod which eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1956 decided that the bus segregation system in Montgomery was unconstitutional. The case was named after the oldest of the four teens.

In September 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened to great fanfare. Claudette said she was surprised and disappointed that she was not invited to the opening dedication.  Her sister, Gloria Laster, said Claudette did not have a place of honor in the museum for her act of bravery. Instead, a small picture of Claudette was attached to a larger display of Rosa.

 "Why does history fail to get it right?" the family wonders. They would like the Smithsonian to help set the record straight by including Claudette's story.