Photo credits: C. Colvin
A judge has granted a plea to have a Black woman’s court record expunged after she was jailed in 1955 for refusing to move to the rear of a segregated Alabama bus, months before Rosa Parks did.
In a short court ruling made public Thursday by a family spokesman, a judge approved Claudette Colvin’s request, NPR reports.
Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress, and NAACP organizer earned global attention on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her treatment sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which catapulted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. into national prominence and is often seen as the beginning of the contemporary civil rights movement.
Even before Parks, Colvin (pictured), a 15-year-old high school student, refused to change seats on a segregated Montgomery bus.
On March 2, 1955, a bus driver reported that two black girls were seated next to two white girls, in contravention of segregation rules. According to a police report, one of the Black females walked toward the back when requested, but Colvin refused and was detained.
Due to Colvin’s age, the matter was sent to juvenile court, where a judge deemed her delinquent and put her on probation “as a ward of the state pending good behavior,” according to court documents. Throughout the decades that followed, Colvin never received formal confirmation that she had fulfilled her probation, and family said they thought police would arrest her for any excuse they could think of.
Colvin claimed she didn’t want to be classified as a “juvenile delinquent” any longer when she requested in October that a judge delete her record.
She said in a statement that she wants “us to go on and be better” now that Juvenile Court Judge Calvin L. Williams has authorized the request.
Colvin was never arrested again, and she was recognized as a plaintiff in the famous case that ended racial segregation in Montgomery’s transit system.