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Friday, February 4, 2011

Civil Rights Leader Claudette Colvin Appears

Posted By on Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Claudette Colvin played a key role in civil disobedience in Alabama.
  • Claudette Colvin played a key role in civil disobedience in Alabama.

We're a country obsessed with superstars. It is never enough to simply be good, or even better than good; someone must be the best. Maybe this accounts for the rise of the competitive reality show, where average people can prove themselves to be the very best at, say, cleaning their house, straightening picture frames, or grooming dogs. Unfortunately, this obsession has leached into history books, where we proclaim people to be the very best in their realm of progressive expertise -- One Feminist to Rule Them All! In reality, it takes hundreds upon thousands of people to build a movement, not just one or two. 

In civil rights, Claudette Colvin's name might not be as ubiquitous as

Rosa Parks', but she refused to give up a seat on a Montgomery, Ala.,

bus nine months before Parks did the same. Colvin is among the people

who appear Sunday in Riding While Black 1955: Claudette Colvin/Walking While Black 1999: Byronn Bain.

Colvin was just a high school student when she refused to relinquish

her seat to a white passenger, and, like Parks, she was arrested and

taken to jail. She later became the star witness in the federal case

that would desegregate Montgomery buses. She also moved to New York

City, became a nurses' aide, and was the muse of a poet laureate and the

subject of a book. She may not be a household name, but she undoubtedly

made an indelible mark on history, if not on every history book.

Activist, author, and hip-hop artist Bain performs and appears in

conversation with Colvin and educator Enid Lee. Storyteller Awele Makeba adds a performance piece about Colvin.

The program starts at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the San Francisco Main Library. Admission is free.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section.

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Andy Wright


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