Book Review: 'Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice' by Phillip Hoose

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

CLAUDETTE COLVIN Twice Toward Justice

By Phillip Hoose

Farrar Straus Giroux, $19.95 (age 10 and up)

Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin, a teenager who knew her constitutional rights and was willing to get arrested to prove it. Through Colvin's recollections, an informative narrative and archival photos, Hoose gives new immediacy to one of the civil rights movement's monumental achievements: the Montgomery bus boycott. Roused by injustices around her and by what she'd learned about black history in school, the 15-year-old Colvin refused to give her bus seat to a white woman on March 2, 1955. She was rewarded with vile treatment by police, time in a jail cell and a mixed reception from her own community. Colvin came into contact with Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. (making his political debut on her behalf) and other leaders, but many of her elders and peers dismissed Colvin's civil disobedience. The movement's leaders evidently sidelined her when she became pregnant, a development that Colvin and Hoose deal with straightforwardly. In 1956, as some violently expressed their rage against racial progress, Colvin nevertheless testified in a landmark segregation case. Again, her age and circumstances didn't diminish her courage.

-- Abby McGanney Nolan

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