Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

Claudette Colvin: Making Trouble Then and Now

The 2022 Radiotopia Fundraiser is here! This year we have a jam-packed week filled with themed “Making Trouble” minisodes, stories from across the network that highlight the mavericks, independent thinkers, and troublemakers who shape our world.

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Claudette Colvin: Making Trouble Then and Now is our take on this year’s theme.

Claudette Colvin grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. On March 2, 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a crowded bus, violating the city’s segregation laws. The bus driver called the police, but Colvin refused to move.

Nine months later, Rosa Parks did the exact same thing. Parks, of course, became a powerful symbol of the civil rights movement. But Colvin has largely been left out of the history books.

In 1956, about a year after the incident, her attorney Fred Gray filed the landmark federal lawsuit Browder v. Gayle. This case ended segregation on public transportation in Alabama. Colvin was a star witness.

Now, nearly 70 years later, she’s fighting for her arrest record to be cleared.


A full transcript of this episode is available here.

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