Hoose, Phillip. 2009. CLAUDETTE COLVIN: TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9780374313227 [Suggested Grade Levels 7- 12]
Relatively little has been published about Claudette Colvin’s role in the Montgomery bus boycotts. Months before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat, Claudette was forcibly removed by Montgomery police for maintaining her place in a “white” row. Although her family supported her courageous act, friends and neighbors often shunned her. Civil rights leaders chose not to use her incident as their rallying point, opting instead to capitalize on Parks’ later arrest. When the time was right, lawyers deftly decided to include Claudette as a plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, a suit that challenged the city’s bus ordinances as unconstitutional. Claudette’s testimony influenced a decision that changed the course of the entire civil rights movement in Alabama, yet appreciation for her was short-lived.
Much of this story is told through Colvin’s own dialogue, providing insights into an average teenager whose struggles included rejection, identity, and teenage pregnancy. The photos, side-bars and primary documents provide the reader with context, but many will be dismayed that it took so long to tell her fascinating story.
Claudette was a victim of multiple kinds of discrimination – perpetrated by the government, white people, and some would argue even the civil rights leaders of the time. Discuss with teens the different types of prejudices she faced, and which of those injustices plague today’s teens.
Books about other teenage civil rights activists:
Beals, Melba Patillo. WARRIORS DON’T CRY. ISBN 9781416948827
Lanier, Carlotta Walls. A MIGHTY LONG WAY: MY JOURNEY TO JUSTICE AT LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL. ISBN 9780345511003
Levine, Ellen S. FREEDOM’S CHILDREN: YOUNG CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS TELL THEIR OWN STORIES. ISBN 9780698118706
By Rebecca S. McKee