The CDF Freedom Schools® program is rooted in the history and vision of the Civil Rights Movement, and Black leadership propels the program to this day. Every day at CDF Freedom Schools, young scholars learn about, reflect on, and apply the lessons of real-life Black heroes. In that spirit, we’re celebrating Black History Month by asking the staff of some of our exemplary CDF Freedom Schools sponsor organizations to tell us who inspires them and whose footsteps they seek to walk in as they serve our country’s children.
Inspiring figures in Black history: Claudette Colvin
On March 2, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama a 15-year-old Black girl exercised her right to occupy a seat on a bus for which she had paid the fare. Claudette Colvin had been learning about Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth in school in the weeks prior, and that afternoon she, too, at the age of 15, became a giant in Black history. The historical figure that inspires me the most is Claudette Colvin.
What about this person’s story or legacy inspires you today?
Colvin’s vivid recollection of how she physically felt the weight of Tubman and Sojourner keeping her in the seat as the bus driver demanded she get up is an ever-present reminder of my own ability to muster deep ancestral strength to boldly confront injustice and oppression.
How do you seek to live your life or serve the young people of your community in that person’s honor?
In order to serve our children well, we must first see and hear our children. Though Colvin was the first person to be arrested for challenging Montgomery’s bus segregation policies, because of her young age, she is often omitted from the larger historical narrative of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I honor Colvin and her legacy in my service to the young people in the St. Louis region by honoring their being, amplifying their voices and advocating for their futures. As was the case in 1955, #TheChildrenShallLead.
The views expressed above are those of the individual interviewed.