2018-05-30 / Features

Chairman Crowley Honors Civil Rights Pioneer Claudette Colvin


Congress Member Joe Crowley presents a Congressional Certificate and an American flag, which was flown over the US Capitol, to civil rights activist Claudette Colvin. (L. to r.): NYS Senator Luis SepĂșlveda, Colvin, Chairman Crowley, and NAACP Parkchester Branch President Beverly Roberts. Congress Member Joe Crowley presents a Congressional Certificate and an American flag, which was flown over the US Capitol, to civil rights activist Claudette Colvin. (L. to r.): NYS Senator Luis SepĂșlveda, Colvin, Chairman Crowley, and NAACP Parkchester Branch President Beverly Roberts. Congress Member Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, honored civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin for her lifetime of public service.

During the May 20 event, which was hosted by the Parkchester Branch of the NAACP in the Bronx, Crowley presented Colvin with a Congressional Certificate and an American flag flown over the US Capitol to recognize her vast contributions to the civil rights movement.

“Ms. Colvin’s story is one of courage and sacrifice,” said Chairman Crowley. “At the age of 15, she jumped headfirst into the civil rights movement by leading the first protest against racial segregation on public buses in the deep South. Her leadership did not receive the recognition it deserved at the time, which is why I’m so honored to commend her courageous achievements today.”

On March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her civil disobedience marked the first protest of its kind in the deep South. Though her arrest preceded Rosa Parks’, Colvin did not receive the same level of recognition, as civil rights organizations at the time were reluctant to broadcast her story.

Eventually, Colvin became one of four plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle segregation case that reached the Supreme Court, where she testified as a witness. That case determined that bus segregation in Alabama was unconstitutional and helped pave the way for desegregation in the South. Ms. Colvin now lives in the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx.

The Congressional Medal of Merit was established in 1942 to honor citizens who served the nation during World War II. Today, the medal is issued more broadly to honor citizens for their contributions, leadership, and achievements.

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