Civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin has arrest expunged at age 82

Civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin has arrest expunged at age 82
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Months before civil rights activist Rosa Parks' national movement, there was Claudette Colvin. Like Parks, Colvin also pushed back against segregation laws in the 1950s when she refused to move to the back of a bus.

As a result of her protest, she was arrested. Now, according to, Juvenile Court Judge Calvin L. Williams has ruled to have Colvin's arrest record expunged. On Thursday, December 16, a brief of the judge's ruling was made public by a representative for Colvin's family.

On March 2, 1955, when Colvin was a 15-year-old high school student, a bus driver called the police to report that two Black girls were refusing to move to the back of the segregated bus. According to the police report, the other girl eventually moved to the Black but Colvin refused and was, subsequently, arrested.

Due to Colvin's age, the case was transferred to a juvenile court division. That judge deemed Colvin delinquent and "placed her on probation 'as a ward of the state pending good behavior.'" Despite decades passing, Colvin never received any documentation confirming her probation had been completed.

When Colvin initially asked to have her record expunged, she provided a sworn statement and emphasized that she did not want to be categorized as a "delinquent" anymore. "I am an old woman now. Having my records expunged will mean something to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And it will mean something for other Black children," Colvin said in the statement.

In response to the latest ruling, Colvin insisted that she wants "us to move forward and be better."

"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," she said. "It will inspire them to make the world better."

Although Colvin spent decades "on probation," she never faced any other legal infractions.


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