Ala. teen's bus defiance set stage for Rosa Parks

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More than 50 years after her refusal to surrender her bus seat to a white woman set the stage for a similar act of defiance by Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin is finally getting her due as a civil rights pioneer.

On March 2, 1955, the 15-year-old schoolgirl from Montgomery, Ala., was dragged off the bus by police, handcuffed and jailed. But her bold act drew little support from classmates — many of whom shunned her — or from the city's black leadership.

She went to court the following year as a plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit that struck down the legal underpinnings for segregated buses in the Jim Crow South and ended the bus boycott that kick-started the civil rights movement.

But even then she won scant recognition and had remained a footnote to history.

Author Phillip Hoose stumbled upon Colvin's story during research for a book on the role of young people in U.S. history. It took him more than six years to track down Colvin, who was living in the Bronx, N.Y., for a series of interviews that led to his book, "Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice," which was released last month.

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