Friday, November 27, 2009

37. An Empowered Woman

Dear Followers,

Thanks to today's New York Times, I learned about a 70 year old woman who has lived in the Bronx for decades, and played an "unheralded" role in the Civil Rights movement.

Most of us think of Rosa Parks (who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus) as a trailblazer in the battle for desegregation back in the 1950s.

But thanks to writer Phillip Hoose, who won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for his book "Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice," we now know that 15 year old Colvin was the first black female bus passenger to be dragged off a bus, handcuffed, and arrested.

Colvin was arrested on March 2, 1955, while Rosa Parks didn't make her stand until nine months later, on December 1. According to Hoose, the NAACP felt that Ms. Colvin wasn't as likely to win support for the cause as Rosa Parks.

It took Hoose four years to persuade Ms. Colvin to meet with him and share her story. She had worked as a nurse's aide in a Manhattan nursing home for 35 years, and kept her role in the Civil Rights movement under wraps. Now, finally, countless readers will learn about the 15 year old girl who let the world honor someone else for an action she took before anyone else.

Looking forward to your comments...

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