The world knows about Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat which helped trigger the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, but she wasn’t the first to make the sacrifice. Several others took the leap of faith to sit as well including Claudette Colvin.
Colvin was 15 in 1955 when she was arrested after she refused to give up her seat to a White person on an Alabama bus. The incident occurred nine months before Rosa Parks would be arrested for a similar act of civil disobedience in the Jim Crow era and have her name memorialized throughout history.
The now 82-year-old Colvin’s record has been sealed, destroyed and expunged following a judge’s ruling. In November, an Alabama family court judge granted Colvin’s petition to expunge her record. Montgomery County Juvenile Judge Calvin Williams on Nov. 24, 2021 signed the order for the records to be destroyed, including all references to the arrest.
Colvin was charged with two counts of violating Montgomery’s segregation ordinance and one felony count of assaulting a police officer. The teenager was convicted on all counts in juvenile court, and the segregation convictions were overturned on appeal. She was placed on an “indefinite probation” after her conviction on the assault charge, and was never informed her probation had ended, her legal team told the Associated Press.
Colvin was a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery and has stated she was inspired by Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth to take a stand. Colvin, who has no ill will, has stated in the past that Parks’ as representative of the civil rights movement was placed at the forefront of the boycott because of her lighter complexion and she was older and married.
Colvin stated in her initial petition to have her record expunged was intended to show her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that some progress has been made in America.
“I want us to move forward and be better. When I think about why I’m seeking to have my name cleared by the state, it is because I believe if that happened it would show the generation growing up now that progress is possible and things do get better. It will inspire them to make the world better,” her petition read.
Take a look below as the judge personally exonerates Colvin and praises her for her fight for freedom and equality.