When most people hear the phrase “Montgomery Bus Boycott,” the first name they think of is Rosa Parks. While Rosa Parks made a significant impact in the Civil Rights Movement, her actions were inspired by 15-year-old Claudette Colvin.
In March 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks’ actions, Claudette Colvin and her friends took the bus home from school. In Montgomery, Alabama, Black people were required to sit on the back of the bus, and white people sat in the front. A white passenger got on the bus, and the driver asked Claudette and her friends to move. Claudette’s friends moved, but Claudette did not. Claudette was arrested and brought to an adult jail, where she was bailed out three hours later by her mother and pastor.
Claudette was the first person to be arrested for defying Montgomery’s bus segregation policies, so her story made a few local papers – but nine months later, the same act of defiance by Rosa Parks was reported all over the world.