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Crime News Black Lives Matter

Civil Rights Legend, Claudette Colvin, Has Record Expunged 6 Decades After Refusing To Give Up Bus Seat

Claudette Colvin, whose refusal to give her bus seat to a white woman, has finally gotten her criminal record for the protest expunged.

By Gina Tron
Claudette Colvin Ap

Sixty-six years after a civil rights pioneer refused to give up her bus seat to a white woman, she has finally had her record for the incident expunged.

Claudette Colvin was only 15 when she bravely stood up for injustice in her home state of Alabama. A bus driver asked her and other Black children to get up so white passengers could have their seats in March of 1955; it was a standard ask back in the segregated south. Colvin refused and was arrested. She was then charged with violating the city’s segregation law, disorderly conduct and assaulting an officer, NBC News reports. While the first two charges were dropped, the assault charge stayed on her record until late last month.

Montgomery Court Judge Calvin Williams signed an order for the juvenile record to be expunged on Nov. 24, his office told NBC News.

“I'm no longer, at 82, a juvenile delinquent," Colvin said in a press conference held on Tuesday, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. She added that she is “not really celebrating” the expungement.

"My reason for doing it is because I get a chance to tell my grandchildren, my great grandchildren what life was like in segregated America," she stated. "The hardship and intimidation that took place in those years and the reason I took a stand to defy the segregated law.”

Her act came nine months before Rosa Parks famously did a similar act of protest.

During Tuesday’s presser, Colvin noted that she has seen some progress with civil rights, citing Black Lives Matter. 

However, she said, "double standards still exist in the judicial system," stating that there is still "one set of rules for African Americans, and another set of rules for Caucasians."

In the affidavit filed to expunge the record, Colvin stated that "history had me glued to the seat. Sitting there, it felt to me as though Harriet Tubman’s hand was on one shoulder pushing me down and Sojourner Truth’s hand was on the other,” NBC reports.

She said the act has followed her her entire life and it led her to be fired from jobs “over and over again” after her bosses "found out that I was ‘that girl’ who had sat on the bus," she noted in the affidavit.

“I was notorious and employing me was a liability," she stated in the document. 

Colvin was also one of four plaintiffs in the Browder V. Gayle Supreme Court decision in 1956, a decision that permanently ended bus segregation in Alabama.