Before Rosa Parks: The Other Women Who Refuse To Be Moved

Claudette Colvin (born Sept. 5, 1939) Nine months before Rosa Parks, Colvin was the first woman on record to refuse to give up her seat. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was seated near the emergency exit on the bus along with a pregnant woman, Ruth Hamilton. The bus was filling up and a White woman wanted to sit where Colvin was. The bus driver wanted both Hamilton and Colvin to move and both women refused to relinquish their seats. A man sitting behind them allowed Hamilton to take his seat. However, at 15, Colvin decided to take a stand by not giving up her seat and was arrested for it.  “And I said, ‘I paid my fare and it’s my constitutional right,’ ” she recalls. “I remember they dragged me off bus because I refused to walk. They handcuffed me and took me to an adult jail.”

Why Rosa Parks? 

Parks was a 42-year-old professional and an officer in the NAACP. She was the symbol that civil rights leaders were looking for. In an interview with NPR, Colvin believes that the NAACP thought that she was too militant and Parks was mild and genteel. “Later, I had a child born out of wedlock. I became pregnant when I was 16,” Colvin says. “And I didn’t fit the image either, of, you know, someone they would want to show off.”