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Claudette Colvin was a civil rights activist in Alabama during the 1950s. She refused to give up her seat on a bus months before Rosa Parks' more famous protest.
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Two years later, Colvin moved to New York City, where she had her second son, Randy, and worked as a nurse's aide at a Manhattan nursing home. She retired in 2004.
Much of the writing on civil rights history in Montgomery has focused on the arrest of Rosa Parks, another woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus, nine months after Colvin. While Parks has been heralded as a civil rights heroine, the story of Claudette Colvin has received little notice. Some have tried to change that. Rita Dove penned the poem "Claudette Colvin Goes to Work," which later became a song. Phillip Hoose also wrote about her in the young adult biography Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.
While her role in the fight to end segregation in Montgomery may not be widely recognized, Colvin helped advance civil rights efforts in the city. "Claudette gave all of us moral courage. If she had not done what she did, I am not sure that we would have been able to mount the support for Mrs. Parks," her former attorney, Fred Gray, told Newsweek.
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