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Fighting For Her Rightful Place In History: The Claudette Colvin Story

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Did history fail to get it right?

Claudette Colvin in 1955
Claudette Colvin in 1955

Rosa Parks has been credited with being the mother of the civil rights movement. But it was not her arrest that led to the desegregation of the buses in Montgomery Alabama. It was because of a 15-year-old girl named Claudette Colvin, whose act of civil disobedience 9 months earlier led to a lawsuit and ultimately a Supreme Court ruling that changed the laws of a city and eventually a nation.

In September 2016, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened to great fanfare. Colvin said she was surprised and disappointed that she was not invited to the opening dedication.  Claudette did not have a place of honor in the museum for her act of bravery.

Instead, a small picture of Colvin was attached to a larger display of Rosa, her sister Gloria Laster said.

Claudette says there is a section in the museum dedicated to Parks, which she doesn't want to take away. But Colvin says her family's goal is to get the historic record right, and compel officials to include this very significant part of history.

"All we want is the truth, why does history fail to get it right?" Laster, said. "Had it not been for Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith there may not have been a Thurgood Marshall, a Martin Luther King or a Rosa Parks."

Claudette Colvin
1010 WINS' anchor Larry Mullins sits down with Civil Rights activist Claudette Colvin. (Credit: 1010 WINS)

In an exclusive interview in November, 2016, Colvin told her story to 1010 WINS' Larry Mullins.

"A lot of people ask the same question, 'What did Rosa do that was so different?'" Colvin said. "I said I paid my fare, it is my constitutional right. I was manhandled backwards off the bus."

1010 WINS has repeatedly reached out to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, but to date, has had no response.


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