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 Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin

Father Thomas Gadson, Mother Mary Gadson, Delphine, Jo Ann, Mary Ellen and Claudette ENLARGE

Claudette Colvin was born September 5, 1939 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her biological parents are C.P. Austin and Mary Jane Austin (Gadson). she is the oldest of eight sisters.

During her early childhood her adopted parents lived in the rural community of Pine Level, Alabama. Claudette attended the Springhill Baptist Elementary School then located on Ramer Route 1. Later she moved to Montgomery and lived in an area called King Hill.

her son and her grandchildren.

She attended Booker T. Washington High School from 1949 to 1956. She did not finish high school. But later she obtained her G.E.D. and attended Alabama State Teachers College in Montgomery
for one year.

Claudette with a family friend, Brenda Forte. .ENLARGE

At the age of 15, what would be later known as her greatest achievement in life, was her significant role in desegregating the buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Claudette is one of the Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement. Nine months before Rosa Parks was arrested, Claudette was arrested on March 2, 1955 for
a similar act of resistance. While Claudette was not the first person to be arrested, she was the first to plead not guilty to segregaion charges and demand a trial. She was one of the four plaintiffs who filed the class action lawsuit Browder vs. Gayle, against segregated seating. Attorney Fred Gray, said it was her case in March that started the preparation for the
lawsuit that was filed February 1, 1956 and comments that if there had been no Claudette Colvin, there would have been no Rosa Parks, there would have been no Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When asked at the federal trial if the group stop riding the buses because of some things Dr. King said, her reply was: "No Sir. It was in the beginning when they arrested me, when they seen how dirty they treated Negro girls here, that they had began to feel like that all the time, though some of us just didn't have the guts to stand up."

Jo Ann Gibson Robinson says of Claudette in her book, "The Montgomery Bus Boycott and The Women Who Started as a pretty, bright and spiritual and teen". Claudette was active in the NAACP Youth Council.

Claudette has worked for the past 30 years at a Catholic Nursing Home as a Nursing Assistant. she is the mother of two boys, the oldest died in her home in 1993, the youngest is a Certified Public Accountant in Atlanta. She had five adorable grandchildren and she can say that she has reaped the fruits of her labor through them. She resides in Bronx, New York and enjoys reading and cooking.

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