Claudette Colvin, an activist and pioneer in the civil rights movement, refused to give up her seat months before Rosa Parks refused hers. She was 15 at the time.
Now at 82, Colvin wants her arrest to be expunged, since it has been 67 years since her arrest, the Associated Press reported last week.
The arrest diminishes her legacy as an unsung hero of the civil rights era, and it should be expunged.
At the time of the incident in Alabama, Colvin felt it was her constitutional right to sit where she wanted on the bus since she paid her fare.
The bus driver told her to give up her seat and she was later arrested for challenging the law that said she couldn’t sit in the front of the bus.
She was a 15-year-old girl sitting in jail terrified for standing up to the racist law.
It was 1955 and segregation was the law across much of the South. Those who protested had to deal with the consequences, getting arrested and often beaten by the police.
In Colvin’s case, the bus driver called the police to report two Black girls sitting next to white girls. The police told the two young girls to move, but Colvin refused while the other young girl moved.
Two officers pulled Colvin out of her seat and dragged her away while an officer kicked her. Colvin was yelling out her rights but it did not help her.
She was pregnant at the time, and the NAACP considered using her case to challenge the segregation law but decided against it, reasoning that it would bring negative attention to a public legal battle, since she was a pregnant teenager and unwed mother.
It was a dangerous time to be Black and arguably even more dangerous to be a Black woman.
It is important to honor the courageous spirit that Colvin set forth.
Colvin deserves to get this racist arrest taken off her record.