The Spotlight
Viola Desmond and Claudette Colvin
Claudette Colvin was 15 when she refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a Montgomery bus on March 2, 1955. She was handcuffed and hauled off to jail, charged with assault and battery, disorderly conduct, and defying segregation law. Her parents feared her actions would cause trouble and she lost most of her friends. Though ready to fight in court, the black community decided to wait, citing her youth and lack of civil rights experience. Viola Desmond, waiting for her car to be repaired in Halifax in 1946, decided to see a movie. She bought a ticket and took a seat on the main floor, only to be told to move to the balcony. Although it was not a law, it was customary for black patrons to sit upstairs. Desmond's refusal led to her arrest and conviction on a trumped-up charge of failing to pay an extra penny to sit downstairs. She pursued her case all the way to the Supreme Court and lost. Segregation was legally ended in Nova Scotia in 1954. Read more about these courageous women at the sites below.
Before Rosa Parks, A Teenager Defied Segregation On An Alabama Bus
Before Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin
Black Activist Viola Desmond Will be First Woman on a Canadian 10 Dollar Bill
Claudette Colvin
Viola Desmond
Viola Desmond

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