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NJ Transit recognizes ‘Civil Rights pioneer’ for helping desegregate transit

Posted on July 15, 2013

NJ Transit honored Civil Rights pioneer Claudette Colvin with the passage of a resolution recognizing her role in desegregating public transportation. The recognition was made just prior to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington that took place in 1963.

“Ms. Colvin’s tremendous contributions to the civil rights movement had a major impact on public transportation in the United States, and thanks to her, the benefits of public transportation are available to all equally regardless of race, color or creed,” said NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein. “On behalf of NJ Transit, we are honored to recognize Ms. Colvin for her contributions.”

The resolution praised Colvin, a current resident of the Bronx in New York City, for her actions as a 15-year-old high school student who consciously defied the system of racial segregation by refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white person as was required by law in Montgomery, Ala. Colvin was arrested and charged with the crime of breaking the segregationist bus transportation laws for her courageous act of civil disobedience on March 2, 1955 — nine months before the arrest of Rosa Parks and the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The legal case of Claudette Colvin was joined with those of three other women who challenged segregationist laws: Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith. They became the plaintiffs in the case Browder v. Gayle before the United States Supreme Court, which declared racial segregation on the buses of Montgomery and the nation unconstitutional.

RELATED: "Chapel Hill Transit workers reenact Parks' bus sit-in, honor MLK"

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