35 Claudette Colvin Quotes from Civil Rights Activist

Claudette Colvin made history in 1955 at 15 years old by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery.

This act of defiance occurred months before Rosa Parks’ similar action which is more widely known.

Despite facing charges and limited support from civil rights groups Colvin played a key role in the landmark 1956 Browder v. Gayle case which led to the U.S. Supreme Court declaring bus segregation illegal.

Colvin’s contributions to the civil rights movement were largely overlooked until 2009 when a book about her life gained recognition.

Image Credit: CBS News

In 2021 she successfully petitioned to clear her record.

Here are some powerful quotes by Claudette Colvin.

Top 10 Claudette Colvin Quotes


There were many African Americans – many, many stories similar to my story. ~ Claudette Colvin.


I was ostracized by my community. ~ Claudette Colvin.


That was worse than stealing, you know, talking back to a white person. ~ Claudette Colvin.


When I told my mother I was pregnant, I thought she was going to have a heart attack. ~ Claudette Colvin.


I was about four years old the first time I ever saw what happened when you acted up to whites. ~ Claudette Colvin.


Young people think Rosa Parks just sat down on a bus and ended segregation, but that wasn’t the case at all. ~ Claudette Colvin.


New York is a completely different culture to Montgomery, Alabama. ~ Claudette Colvin.


I’d like my grandchildren to be able to see that their grandmother stood up for something, a long time ago. ~ Claudette Colvin.


We were churchgoing people. ~ Claudette Colvin.


I lost most of my friends. Their parents had told them to stay away from me, because they said I was crazy, I was an extremist. ~ Claudette Colvin.

Famous Claudette Colvin Quotes

The Montgomery Bus Boycott began in December 1955, and by 1956 NAACP leaders came to me and asked me to be part of a lawsuit they wanted to file on my behalf and that of three other women, to challenge segregation on public buses. ~ Claudette Colvin.


When our founding fathers drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights, black people weren’t even considered human. ~ Claudette Colvin.

I left the South in 1963 and was living in Morristown, New Jersey, when the March on Washington took place, so I watched it on television instead. ~ Claudette Colvin.

I always tell young people to hold on to their dreams. And sometimes you have to stand up for what you think is right even if you have to stand alone. ~ Claudette Colvin.

I wanted the young African-American girls also on the bus to know that they had a right to be there, because they had paid their fare just like the white passengers. ~ Claudette Colvin.


Rosa Parks wasn’t the first one to rebel against the segregated seats. I was the first one. ~ Claudette Colvin.

We learned about people like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington and Marian Anderson. Harriet Tubman was my favorite. ~ Claudette Colvin.

For African-Americans, it’s still going to be – some people say double hard – I’d say four times as hard. Be an opportunist. Take advantage of your resources, because the only way to win is with education, self-esteem, having value in yourself. ~ Claudette Colvin.


I became aware of how the world is and how the white establishment plays black people against each other. ~ Claudette Colvin.

What do we have to do to make God love us?’ I always grew up with that. I always used to go around thinking that. ‘God loved the white people better. He must’ve. That’s why he made them white.’ ~ Claudette Colvin.

Whenever people ask me: ‘Why didn’t you get up when the bus driver asked you?’ I say it felt as though Harriet Tubman’s hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth’s hands were pushing me down on the other shoulder. I felt inspired by these women because my teacher taught us about them in so much detail. ~ Claudette Colvin.

Best Claudette Colvin Quotes

I never swore when I was young. ~ Claudette Colvin.


I sleep when the sleep comes down on me. ~ Claudette Colvin.

I remember during Easter one year, I was to get a pair of black patent shoes but you could only get them from the white stores, so my mother drew the outline of my feet on a brown paper bag in order to get the closest size, because we weren’t allowed to go in the store to try them on. ~ Claudette Colvin.

I’ve always told my children that once they go out into the world, they must have two heads and two minds: one to keep grounded, the other to deal with corporate America. ~ Claudette Colvin.

Popular Claudette Colvin Quotes

I wanted to be an attorney. My mother would say I never stopped talking. I always had a lot of questions to ask, and I was never satisfied with the answer. A lot of things I wasn’t satisfied by. ~ Claudette Colvin.

When I got to 10th grade at Booker T. Washington High, I had a teacher, Miss Geraldine Nesbitt. I think she came from New York. She helped me begin to question things. ~ Claudette Colvin.


When you’ve been abused daily and you see people humiliated and harassed, you just get tired of it. ~ Claudette Colvin.

As long as white people put people of color, African Americans and Latinos, in the same dispensable bag, and look at our children of color as insignificant and treat women of color as not as deserving of protection as white women, we will never achieve true equality. ~ Claudette Colvin.

A lot has changed since I grew up, but there’s still a long way to go. I don’t think we can move forward with Donald Trump as the president. There’s a disconnect there. We don’t want to regress, we want progress. ~ Claudette Colvin.

A lot of African American women wanted to emulate white women. But I said in my mind, rationally thinking, there is no way you are going to get your hair that straight, especially in the summer. ~ Claudette Colvin.

Back then, as a teenager, I kept thinking, why don’t the adults around here just say something? Say it so they know we don’t accept segregation? I knew then and I know now that, when it comes to justice, there’s no easy way to get it. You can’t sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, ‘This is not right.’ ~ Claudette Colvin.


There was segregation everywhere. The churches, buses and schools were all segregated and you couldn’t even go into the same restaurants. ~ Claudette Colvin.

The light-skinned girls always thought they were better looking. So did the teachers, too. That meant most of the dark complexion ones didn’t like themselves. ~ Claudette Colvin.

So these were the 35 top quotes about Claudette Colvin.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Alexis de Tocqueville quotes and Zsa Zsa Gabor quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar