Featured Civil Rights Activist: Claudette Colvin grew up in Alabama in the 1940s and 1950s. At that time, Jim Crow rules dominated her life. Jim Crow rules were designed to keep black people and white people separated. These are the rules that said black people could not eat in certain restaurants or sit in certain seats on a city bus. When Claudette was 15 years old she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, so she was arrested. You’re probably thinking, no, that was Rosa Parks. It’s true, Rosa Parks did the same thing, but Claudette did it too! A lawsuit was filed on behalf of several people, including Claudette and Rosa, to end bus segregation, and eventually, they won. Rosa is more well known, but Claudette was right there too, and she was just a kid! Reading her story helps you understand that it took lots of people, young and old, to change the Jim Crow rules. A lot of people were brave enough to stand up and say, “no more!”
This book includes interviews with Claudette herself, so you get the story straight from her. She talks about what it felt like to live with Jim Crow; to constantly be told, “you can’t”. When you hear a real person talking about it, it seems much more real than reading a plain description. Claudette was there and she can speak for herself. If you like reading about Claudette, try Marching For Freedom. That one tells the story of kids who marched in Selma, Alabama to help win black people the right to vote. It’s really good too and includes interviews with people who were kids back then and were actually there.
If you like Claudette’s story you might like finding out about a strong Hoosier woman who fought for her rights. When Indiana became a state in 1816, the constitution stated, “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude.” In early 1816, Mary Bateman Clark, a slave in Kentucky, was sold and brought to Knox County, Indiana, as an “indentured servant.” In 1821 Clark filed suit for her freedom. The Knox County Circuit Court ruled against Clark’s petition to end her indentured servitude. Clark appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, which ruled that Clark’s status was clearly not voluntary. The court awarded Clark her freedom and in doing so set a precedent for freedom for other indentured blacks held in Indiana.
- We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement
- National Civil Rights Museum
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- National Museum of African American History and Culture: Civil Rights Collection (an image gallery of photos and artifacts)
- National Museum of African American History and Culture: Segregation (an image gallery of photos and artifacts)
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: Civil Rights Movement Artifacts
More about Black History:
- Read Thru History: Civil Rights Timeline to 1954
- Read Thru History: Civil Rights Timeline from 1954-1968
- Black History: Athletes
- Black History: Authors & Illustrators
- Black History: The Civil Rights Movement
- Black History: Cowboys, Pioneers & the American West
- Black History: IndyPL Digital Collections
- Black History: Musicians & Singers
- Black History: Painters & Artists
- Black History: Scientists & Inventors
- Black History: Slavery
- Read Right Now! Black History
- Read Right Now! Martin Luther King Jr.
- Read Right Now! African American Stories
To learn even more about fascinating and inspiring black history makers, visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library. The Center is dedicated to celebrating the vibrant and resilient heritage and triumphs of those born of African roots.
“To get young people engaged, one of the things they need is to see themselves in books. It is important for all of us to see ourselves in books, because that encourages us to read in a different way and encourages us to write more.” ~ Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott Founder of the African American Read-in #weneeddiversebooksPrint This Post