Claudette Colvin: The Unsung Hero

Claudette Colvin: The Unsung Hero

The Girl Who Should Have Taken The Civil Rights Movement By Storm

With Black History Month in full swing and Rosa Park's birthday just behind us, it dawned on me to educate those who aren't aware of the girl who first refused to move her seat. With prejudice and injustice still prevalent and the #BlackLivesMatter movement becoming more powerful than ever (looking at you, Beyonce!), some of the original Civil Rights Movement heroes are worth learning more about. Most of us know the story of Rosa Parks, but few know the story of Claudette Colvin.

Hero, who?

Montgomery, Alabama was the first U.S. city to have a fully segregated transportation system, as of 1906. Claudette was poor but worked her butt off in school getting mostly As. She even dreamt of someday becoming the president.

In 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin thought this law, and other laws supporting segregation, were totally violating her constitutional rights. On March 2nd that same year, Claudette took the bus home with three kids from school. There were not yet any white people on the bus, so the middle section was free for Claudette to sit down. The rules stated that the front 10 seats of the bus were reserved for white passengers, and after they were filled, black passengers had to give up their middle and/or rear seat to a white person.

When a white woman stepped on the bus on that ever so important March afternoon, Claudette refused to move her seat. She was escorted off the bus by the authorities a few blocks following and was arrested. She was charged with disorderly conduct, violating the segregation law, and with assaulting the policemen who had dragged her off the bus.

If it weren't for her age, the NAACP may have reconsidered not challenging the segregation laws that made her case in the first place. It also didn't help that Claudette became pregnant in the few months after her arrest.

She was branded as a trouble-maker. The little-known reputation she had was destroyed. She dropped out of college and had extreme difficulty finding work.

It sounds like Claudette was doomed to live in the shadows forever and never help end segregation, right?


Claudette became one of four plaintiffs in the Browder vs. Gayle case. If that doesn't already sound familiar, the 1956 case went to the Supreme Court and deemed that Montgomery's segregation laws were unconstitutional.

Hero, why?

You may be confused as to why Rosa Parks became the face of the Civil Rights Movement, even though her actions took place 9 months later.

Claudette's "troublemaking" reputation, deep complexion, and nappy hair, wasn't widely accepted by the vast majority, not even her own community. Unfortunately, 15 year old activists are sometimes labeled as plain rebellious, especially when they become teen moms in such a conservative time period. Her acts were seen as a scandal, rather than a courageous stride.

Rosa Parks was educated, light-skinned, older, and seen as a wiser member of the community. She was well respected, unlike Claudette Colvin. MLK even endorsed Rosa Parks as a figurehead of the Civil Rights Movement.

Without Colvin’s bravery, Parks may not have had the means, preparation, or knowledge to prevail. I'm not saying that Rosa Parks isn't hella important. I'm just saying Claudette Colvin is HELLA important, too! You go, girl.


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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Paths We Take

I can control my destiny, but not my fate.

Have you ever wondered if life would be different in more ways than one, considering the different choices we make? Personally, I’ve always wondered what my life would be like, whether it would still be in the best shape as it is currently. Throughout the majority of my life, I have always wondered, “why do these bad things happen?” I had never really believed in a higher power, so I never had anywhere to turn to for answers. There’s also the case that everything that happens, happens for a reason. To this day, I one hundred percent, believe that.

If I hadn’t gone through the most abusive relationship of my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. For instance, would I really be living in my own home in Albany to this day, if I hadn’t met my ex? Those two don’t seem to correlate at all, right? The main reason I moved to Albany to begin with, was for my ex.

The original plan wasn’t to move out to Albany; it was never to find someone at college and “claim” to fall in love. My original plan was to stay at home, with my dad, in the small town of Norwich, NY, and become a cop. I knew I wanted to move on to bigger and better things, but there are still many people who say the same thing…

“I need to get out of this town.”

Ironically, they haven’t left, but I did…

The original plan wasn’t to take a semester off and work for the Albany Legislature, that was just a shot in the dark. I had received an email, about a potential internship. Thinking “what the hell” I applied. I applied just to say I did it, never did I imagine I would actually be accepted. Six months later, I’m sitting in the office of Assemblyman Joseph Giglio. Little did I know at the time, this was going to be the turning point of my life. It would define my career choices, and my life in many more ways than one.

In any case, it was the conscious decision that I needed to leave my hometown and branch out to somewhere new. Would I really have met my current boyfriend, if I never made the move to begin with? Even if he did live two hours away from me. These subtle choices make me beg the bigger question, could this be the inner workings of fate?

I catch myself continuously reflecting on where my life is, and how it felt as though I was on a roller-coaster that would twist and turn in directions that I would have never guessed. I was at my lowest point right before I met the most important person in my life-Josh. He lifted me up from the lowest point and continues to do the same to this day. I wonder how my life would be currently if I hadn’t met him, or if he wasn’t as supportive and loving as he is. Where would I be?

I’m not trying to say that I “wouldn’t be here,” but it’s inevitable to question how much in my life would be different if certain things had never happened. I’m forever grateful for the people in my life and the way that fate has taken me. For all the obstacles that I had to overcome, that eventually led me to the climb out of this metaphorical hole that I found myself in. To the people that have come and gone, teaching me valuable lessons to which I have become a bigger and better person. For those bridges that were eventually mended after a big and powerful wreckage. I believe there is a reason for me to be in this world, whether it’d be on the basis of fate or the choices I make for myself.

This gives me a reason to keep going, and keep pushing forward.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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