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Claudette Colvin, the biggest civil rights hero you’ve never heard of

The COVID hits just keep coming. The CDC now says you shouldn’t get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine if the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are available. That’s because the J&J vaccine has been linked to a rare blood clotting side effect that has been fatal in 9 cases. So, if you can help it, get Moderna or Pfizer, and don’t get J&J.

But, for once this year, let’s have a day that’s about more than COVID. Let’s have a day that’s about empowering Black people–Black women in particular. The sister I’m thinking about is an elder now, and she’s spent her whole life fighting for what’s right.

I doubt that you’ve ever heard of this Black queen, but she is a civil rights pioneer in every sense of the word. Her name is Claudette Colvin.

Colvin, now 82, was arrested when she was just 15 for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The incident happened in 1955, and came nine months before Rosa Parks’ more famous arrest for a similar act of civil disobedience in the age of Jim Crow.

Ms. Colvin spent her whole life with probation hanging over her head. And now, after a long fight to put it all behind her, Ms. Colvin’s juvenile court records have been sealed, destroyed and expunged following a judge’s ruling.

That’s how it should be. Because Claudette Colvin, at a young age, did something many of us would be hesitant to do. She stood up when she was vulnerable, stood up when she was powerless, stood up for what was right. And for that, she should be rewarded, not punished.

Claudette Colvin showed us what an empowerment experience was. Because when she took that seat, she took her power back.

Photo: Claudette Colvin By. Will

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