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Claudette Colvin

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CLAUDETTE COLVIN:

TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE

ALSO BY PHILLIP HOOSE

Building an Ark: Tools for the Preservation of Natural Diversity Through Land Protection

Hoosiers: The Fabulous Basketball Life of Indiana

Necessities: Racial Barriers in American Sports

It's Our World, Too!: Young People Who Are Making a Difference

Hey, Little Ant (
with Hannah Hoose
)

We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird

Perfect, Once Removed: When Baseball Was All the World to Me

CLAUDETTE COLVIN:

TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE

BY
P
HILLIP
H
OOSE

Text copyright © 2009 by Phillip Hoose
All rights reserved
Distributed in Canada by Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
Printed in the United States of America
Designed by Jay Colvin
First edition, 2009
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

www.fsgteen.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hoose, Phillip M., date.

Claudette Colvin : twice toward justice / by Phillip Hoose.—1st ed.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13: 978-0-374-31322-7

ISBN-10: 0-374-31322-9

1. Colvin, Claudette, 1939–—Juvenile literature. 2. African Americans—Alabama—Montgomery—Biography—Juvenile literature. 3. African American civil rights workers—Alabama—Montgomery—Biography—Juvenile literature. 4. African American teenage girls—Alabama—Montgomery—Biography—Juvenile literature. 5. African Americans—Segregation—Alabama—Montgomery—History—Juvenile literature. 6. Segregation in transportation—Alabama—Montgomery—History—Juvenile literature. 7. Montgomery (Ala.)—Biography—Juvenile literature. 8. Montgomery (Ala.)—Race relations—History—20th century—Juvenile literature. I. Title.

F334.M753C6554 2009
323.092—dc22
[B]

2008005435

“The Black Man Speaks,” from
The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
by Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad with David Roessel, associate editor, copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

“Still I Rise,” copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou, from
And Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

To Gerald E. Talbot,
for keeping alive the history of African-American life in Maine
—P.H.

CONTENTS

PART ONE:

First Cry

CHAPTER ONE:

Jim Crow and the Detested Number Ten

CHAPTER TWO:

Coot

CHAPTER THREE:

“We Seemed to Hate Ourselves”

CHAPTER FOUR:

“It's My Constitutional Right!”

CHAPTER FIVE:

“There's the Girl Who Got Arrested”

CHAPTER SIX:

“Crazy” Times

CHAPTER SEVEN:

“Another Negro Woman Has Been Arrested”

CHAPTER EIGHT:

Second Front, Second Chance

PART TWO:

Playing for Keeps

CHAPTER NINE:

Browder v. Gayle

CHAPTER TEN:

Rage in Montgomery

EPILOGUE:

History's Door

AUTHOR'S NOTE

BIBLIOGRAPHY

NOTES

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

PICTURE CREDITS

INDEX

PART ONE
F
IRST
C
RY

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
.

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

CHAPTER ONE
J
IM
C
ROW AND THE
D
ETESTED
N
UMBER
T
EN

I swear to the Lord
I still can't see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me
.

—Langston Hughes

C
LAUDETTE
C
OLVIN
: I was about four years old the first time I ever saw what happened when you acted up to whites. I was standing in line at the general store when this little white boy cut in front of me. Then some older white kids came in through the door and started laughing. I turned around to see what they were laughing at. They were pointing at me. The little white boy said, “Let me see, let me see, too.” For some reason they all wanted to see my hands. I held my hands up, palms out, and he put his hands up against my hands. Touched them. The older kids doubled up laughing. My mother saw us, and she saw that the boy's mother was watching. Then my mom came straight across the room, raised her hand, and gave me a backhand slap across my face. I burst into tears. She said, “Don't you know you're not supposed to touch them?” The white boy's mother nodded at my mom and said, “That's right, Mary.”

That's how I learned I should never touch another white person again.

I
F, LIKE
C
LAUDETTE
C
OLVIN
, you grew up black in central Alabama during the 1940s and 1950s, Jim Crow controlled your life from womb to tomb. Black and white babies
were born in separate hospitals, lived their adult lives apart from one another, and were buried in separate cemeteries. The races were segregated by a dense, carefully woven web of laws, signs, partitions, arrows, ordinances, unequal opportunities, rules, insults, threats, and customs—often backed up by violence. Together, the whole system of racial segregation was known as “Jim Crow.”

Jim Crow's job was not only to separate the races but to keep blacks poor. In 1950, nearly three in five black women in Montgomery, Alabama's capital city, worked as maids for white families, and almost three-quarters of employed black men mowed lawns and did other kinds of unskilled labor. The average black worker made about half as much money as the average white. “The only professional jobs . . . open to blacks were . . . pastoring a black church and schoolteaching, which was open because of segregated schools,” recalled the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, the minister of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery during the 1950s.

Jim Crow kept blacks and whites from learning together, playing or eating meals together, working or riding buses or trains together, worshiping with one another, even going up and down in the same elevator or throwing a ball back and forth in the same park. Black and white citizens drank water from separate fountains and used different bathrooms. They were forbidden to play sports on the same team, marry one another, or swim together in the same pool.

WHO WAS JIM CROW?

Between the 1830s and the 1950s, minstrel shows starred white performers who smeared burnt cork on their faces and ridiculed African-American life. Thomas “Daddy” Rice is credited with popularizing minstrel shows with the song “Jump Jim Crow,” which, he said, he'd heard from a black singer. After the sheet music sold widely, Jim Crow became a standard character in minstrel shows and then evolved into a term to represent the whole system of laws and customs that segregated black and white Americans.

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