We interrupt this broadcast to give you a break from: Obama the Terrible
Driving home last week from a weekend in Savannah, Georgia, I heard on the radio what I have posted below. Maybe this is something that is well known to everyone, but I asked a few people and they had no idea this occurred. I have never heard this before so I did my own research and pulled together the following.
December 1 marked the 54th anniversary of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat in the front of the bus to a white passenger. In 1955, Park was 42 years old. She is considered a civil rights activist and was recognized by the U.S. Congress as the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement.”
Irene Morgan was a pioneer in the civil rights movement, 11 years before Rosa Parks. Morgan was 27 years old in 1944 when she was arrested and jailed in Virginia for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. Morgan was sitting four rows from the back, but still in the “colored section”. In a 1946 landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that Virginia's state law enforcing segregation on interstate buses was illegal.
Claudette Colvin is a pioneer of the African American civil rights movement and was part of the NAACP Youth Council at the time of her arrest. She resisted to give up her seat in a Montgomery bus to a white person in 1955 at the age of 15. This incident occurred 9 months before the Rosa Parks. Her case was not publicized by black leaders because of her image as a lower-class, dark-skinned, unmarried pregnant woman. After her father posted her bail, Edgar Daniel Nixon, the leader of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, vowed to help Colvin because they had been waiting for a test case to challenge bus segregation. In the months following her arrest, Colvin became pregnant. At that time, it was considered a moral transgression and would scandalize the deeply religious black community.
Then came the second-guessing: (1) very poor background (2) father mowed lawns (3) mother was a maid (4) lived in the poorest sections of Montgomery. It was also said that Colvin spewed curse words at officers. Colvin denied ever saying anything to that extent, on the contrary, they were directed towards her. This made the NAACP question whether or not Colvin was a “reputable” face for the civil rights cause. They did not want the white press to pick on all of her “negatives”. The decision was made that they were going to wait for until they had a plaintiff who was more upstanding.
Some historians have argued that civil rights leaders, who were predominantly middle class, were uneasy with Colvin's lower class background.
Mary Louise Smith is a civil rights protester. On October 21, 1955, at the age of 18, Smith was ordered to give up her seat on the bus to a white female passenger. She was subsequently arrested, 40 days before Rosa Parks. Her father bailed her out of jail and paid her fine, $9. Smith was a high-school dropout, worked as a housekeeper, and lived in a clapboard shack in the country. Smith was not chosen by black leaders as the face of the Montgomery civil rights movement because it was rumored that her father was an alcoholic.
Smith did not learn about that until 1995 when a reporter told her that she had been a topic of conversation among black leader as being a test case. They could not find anything negative to say about Smith, but the reason she was not chosen was because of her father’s rumor – he was an alcoholic. Smith said that this was an untrue allegation and that it bothered her more than the exclusion and ignoring of her contributions by Montgomery and national black leaders for over 50 years.
I have nothing bad to say about Rosa Parks, but I feel that the NAACP was guilty of racism themselves. Why? Because Claudette Colvin should have been the face of the civil rights movement and it’s her name that should be everywhere Rosa Parks name is currently at. As mentioned above, the NAACP did not use Colvin as the “chosen” person because of her image of being a lower-class, dark-skinned, unmarried pregnant woman. During that time, light/fair skin carried more of a status among blacks. How racist is that? Amongst themselves they must have said, “Because her skin is dark we might not get the results we want so sorry Claudette, you just don’t fit the profile we are looking for.” Isn’t that as racist as “you have to sit in the back of the bus because you are black and not white?” I see it as racism between themselves. It is counter-productive. That’s why Rosa Parks was chosen – 42 years old, with a job, and light skin.
What about the case of Mary Louise Smith? She was not chosen to be “Rosa Parks” because there were rumors that her dad was an alcoholic. The NAACP did not find anything negative against her and she was never informed of the reason until 1995 – 40 years later.
I am against racism of any kind and I feel that the NAACP engaged themselves in racism back then. Think about this: How many atrocities could have been prevented IF the NAACP would have handled the Claudette Colvin case in the manner they did for Rosa Parks? Think of all the people who suffered during the 9 months the NAACP hand-picked someone who was just right and was not dark-skinned or poor being unmarried and pregnant. I am not saying that racism towards blacks would have ended, but the process would have commenced a lot sooner instead of 9 months LATER !! Unbelievable !!
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