Civil Rights Pioneer Claudette Colvin Has Juvenile Record Expunged at 82 Years Old
Judge Calvin Williams of Montgomery, Alabama, was not even born yet when 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a White person. 66 years later, Williams was able to expunge the record of that incident and clear Colvin’s name, adding that he knows he has benefitted from the civil rights pioneer.
“I want to thank you for your courage. Your courageous act. I want to, on behalf of myself and all of the judges in Montgomery, offer my apology for an injustice that was perpetrated upon you,” Williams told CBS.
“I’m one of several African American judges in Montgomery,” continued Williams. “That’s the uniqueness of this whole circumstance. That she stood up for right, and now I’m the beneficiary and byproduct of that and I can correct the wrong that was done to her. That’s the significance of it.”
Colvin, who is now 82, was arrested at just 15 for refusing to give up her seat to a White person on a bus in Montgomery. The incident came nine months before Rosa Parks’ more famous arrest for a similar act of civil disobedience in the Jim Crow era.
Colvin went on to join the plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, a 1956 case that made its way to the Supreme Court and led to the end of bus segregation across Alabama.
Colvin wanted to be expunged to prove it is possible to “move forward and be better,” she said. “When I think about why I’m seeking to have my name cleared by the state, it is because I believe if that happened it would show the generation growing up now that progress is possible and things do get better. It will inspire them to make the world better.”
Image source: BBC, CBS