Storyteller. Producer. Educator. Recording Artist.
Riding While Black / Walking While Black, Social Justice Program
        Claudette Colvin & Bryonn Bain in Conversation with Enid Lee
        Ancestral Libations: Fania Davis, P.h.D., J.D. & Rashiid Moore
  San Francisco Public Library, Social Justice Program, February 2011    510-601-0432
Claudette Colvin, Star Witness, Browder v Gayle Federal Court Case
         Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center
                       Right To Read Program

                                                IN THE NEWS 

Juvenile Justice Student artwork was 1 of 4 chosen out of 30 to be part of the mobile art exhibit which will appear on more than 200 AC Transit buses in the month of April.


The Alameda County Office of Education, Probation Department, Arts Commission and Library came together to create a collaborative learning environment for our students.


Claudette Colvin was fifteen years old and learning about her constitutional rights in school, when, on March 2, 1955 she was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white woman on the segregated city bus. Her brave, spontaneous act laid the groundwork for the Montgomery Bus Boycott and a year later she was instrumental in ending that boycott by testifying as a key Plaintiff in the landmark bus case Browder V. Gayle.


Claudette Colvin herself, alive and in person, along with Awele Makeba, storyteller and teacher came here to speak with over 150 youth in person at the Juvenile Justice Center on Friday, February 4th through the Alameda County Library Write to Read program. Alameda County Office of Education teacher Sonia Osborne in partnership with Alameda County Arts Commission teacher Lilli Lanier had the 22 students describe the steps they took in the “Claudette Colvin Project:"


1) “We looked at Claudette Colvin’s book and talked about her life. We wrote out facts about her life.”


2) “Next we did a charcoal portrait of her where everyone shaded in a few squares using charcoal pencils. Then we put them together by number, like a puzzle to make up her face. It was amazing how it all came together. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe what we had done!”


3) “We did another portrait of Claudette Colvin using the image on the front of her book. This time we made it bigger and in color and we used oil pastels. This one used more artistic licence.”


4) ”On February 4th, we went to the multi purpose room and got to meet Claudette Colvin. She came and visited us and talked about her life and we showed her the art we made about her. She signed the artwork with her name. She had a real sparkle and was fun to listen to.”


More Student Quotes:


“Claudette Colvin was a teenager who stood up for her rights and for what was right.”


“A teenager can stand up for what’s right and make a big difference.”


“She is a person that helped get the civil rights movement started with Rosa Parks. She knew her rights because she studied the constitution.”


“She was sincere, had a nice sense of humor and was a great samaritan and a leader who stuck up for what’s right. She wasn’t scared to step out of line.”


“I learned that you should always stand up for your rights and that everyone deserves freedom, respect and dignity no matter what color you are.”


“Shaking her hand was the most memorable moment of the project to me. I touched a piece of history.”


“Thank you, Claudette Colvin for spending the time to come visit us and speak to us and letting us shake history’s hand. You are the real Rosa Parks.”


“Thank you Claudette Colvin for not giving up your seat on the bus and risking your freedom.”


Resources we used:

“Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice”


Artist Statement:


We are all male, ages 12-16. While working on this project, we learned about the life and legacy of Claudette Colvin. We were honored to meet her on February 4, 2011 when she came to visit us and talk about her life. The process of learning about someone, reading her book and creating a portrait of her out of love and respect was unforgettable. The most memorable moment was when we each got to shake her hand and touch a piece of history. We learned that you should think for yourself and always stand up for your rights and for what is right. Thank you, Claudette Colvin, for being brave and for helping get the civil rights movement started.”


“Stand up for what’s right.”

            -Claudette Colvin


Students were also given signed copies of Phillip Hoose's multiple award winning book Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice.


Attached you will see the two original art pieces along with a photo of Ms. Colvin and the signed piece in the Juvenile Justice Center after her presentation.


Special thanks to Awele Makeba, and as always, the Probation Department.



Amy Cheney