Friday, February 02, 2018

Black History Month - Montgomery Bus Boycott

It's February and you know what time it is...Black history month!

During the 1990s there was an HBO film with regards to one of the first major acts by a young Dr. Martin Luther King called Boycott. This movie portrayed the Montgomery Bus Boycott and it starred Jeffrey Wright as Dr. King who was pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

I was reminded today (thanks to a passing mention by Mancow Muller on the radio) that while we remember Rosa Parks for her act of refusing to give up her seat on a local Montgomery, Alabama bus and getting booked for it. There was another young woman at that time who was already gearing up for this named Claudette Colvin. Unfortunately most of us might know who that woman is.

So aside from a wikipedia entry here's a 2009 NPR article about Ms. Colvin who was 15 when she began her own youthful protests against segregation. She didn't want to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. I can see this as her youth, but she wasn't wrong to do her protests. And on top of that her name was added to a court case regarding the bus segregation of Montgomery Browder vs. Gayle.

And according to NPR there are reasons we're not that familiar with Ms. Colvin's contributions:
There are many reasons why Claudette Colvin has been pretty much forgotten. She hardly ever told her story when she moved to New York City. In her new community, hardly anyone was talking about integration; instead, most people were talking about black enterprises, black power and Malcolm X.

When asked why she is little known and why everyone thinks only of Rosa Parks, Colvin says the NAACP and all the other black organizations felt Parks would be a good icon because "she was an adult. They didn't think teenagers would be reliable."

She also says Parks had the right hair and the right look.

"Her skin texture was the kind that people associate with the middle class," says Colvin. "She fit that profile."
Ah, a teenaged girl who didn't have the right skin color or hair texture wouldn't fit the right image. They were looking for the right optics to make this movement more relatable to the right people.

I recall seeing this in a book regarding the Civil Rights movement, perhaps a mention of a teenaged girl being pregnant. Don't recall a name and a long way from tell you what book it was. Perhaps that'll be the subject of another post sometime this month. Allow me to find that book.

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