US civil rights activist Claudette Colvin, who refused to give her seat on a bus to a white man in 1955 at the age of 15, is trying to get her criminal record canceled.
Ms. Colvin, now 82, was convicted of assaulting a police officer while she was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, and placed on probation.
He is contesting in court the fact that probation never officially ended.
Her case happened nine months before Rosa Parks did the same.
“I am an elderly woman now,” Ms. Colvin said in an affidavit. “Having my records deleted will mean something to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And it will mean something to other black children.”
Speaking to a crowd of relatives and activists in Montgomery, she said: “I guess you can say I’m no longer a juvenile delinquent.”
- BACKGROUND: Before Rosa Parks, there was a 15-year-old girl
- LONG READING: The black migrant who fought US segregation
In an interview with the BBC in 2018, Colvin said she was “not scared but disappointed and angry” because she knew she was “sitting in the right place”.
She was the first person to be arrested for defying Montgomery’s bus segregation policies, but her story remains relatively unknown. It was Rosa Parks who became a leading figure in the civil rights movement after her case led to the boycott of the bus system.
Ms. Colvin said she was inspired by the great anti-slavery activists Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. He would end up testifying in the emblematic case that effectively ended segregation on buses, in 1956.
His lawyer said probation had cast a shadow over his life. Ms. Colvin left Alabama at the age of 20 and spent decades in New York, but her family always worried about what might happen when she returned for visits, according to the Associated Press.
Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said he supported Ms. Colvin’s request.
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