Monday, March 16, 2009
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
This biography of a relatively unknown civil rights pioneer should be in every middle and high school library. I had heard of Claudette Colvin because I read Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman, but I had no idea of the real story behind this 15-year-old girl who was arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery bus months before Rosa Parks came along. Instead of being hailed as a hero, Claudette was actually ostracized and vilified by most of her fellow students. She faced criminal charges and was shortly after expelled from school due to her unplanned pregnancy. She could have given up the fight for justice but the next year she was the key witness in the federal lawsuit that officially ended bus segregation in Alabama. She risked her life to testify and never really got much credit for her efforts. Author Phillip Hoose tracked down Claudette Colvin in New York City and personally interviewed her numerous times for this book. It's well-written and absorbing and a great example of using primary sources. Recommended for readers of all ages—including adults.