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“When it comes to justice . . .”

“When it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can’t sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, ‘This is not right.’ And I did.”


In March of 1955, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. She was manhandled off the bus, locked in an adult jail, and fined. A year later, she became one of the five women to file a suit “Browder v. Gayle,” challenging segregation of public transportation as unconstitutional. Called a “star witness” by a lawyer at the trial before three federal judges, Colvin said afterwards, “I was exhausted but proud – I felt I had done my best.” Four months later, the judges ruled that bus segregation in Alabama was unconstitutional, a decision that was upheld by the United States Supreme Court. Hearing the court’s decision gave Claudette Colvin a feeling of “joy for my people and pride for what I had done.”  She was empowered by a teacher who taught about citizens’ rights under the U.S. Constitutions. (I wrote about Claudette Colvin in my book “Girls: A History of Growing Up Female in America”)

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