As It Happens

Chuck’s Chat – CLAUDETTE COLVIN: AN UNSUNG SHERO


Story by Chuck Tackett 

CLAUDETTE COLVIN: AN UNSUNG SHERO

“Okay ladies, now let’s get information. You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation.”
“Formation” – Beyonce

 

“And a little child shall lead them”

If you are familiar with the cable television network channel TVOne, then you are familiar with one if its original programming, “Unsung”.

For those of you who may not be, “Unsung” is an hour-long documentary TV series that reveals stories behind well-known R&B and soul music artists, bands or groups that exploded on Bill Board carts with several hits, only to have their careers derailed by a major crisis, business-wise or personal. They are under appreciated by later generations of present-day R&B and Soul music listeners.

In October 2015, TVOne announced the premiere of the “Unsung” franchise. The show was called “Unsung Hollywood”. This shows operate under the same premise of “Unsung”, but features actors, comedians, movies, and TV shows influential in the African American community. With that said, this is one of the inspirations that gave me the notion for this Chuck’s Chat article.

“And a little child shall lead them.”

Nine months before Rosa Parks’ she-roic action of refusing to give up her bus seat for a White passenger, Claudette was arrested March 2nd, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a White passenger as well.

Years ago, I briefly heard of Claudette’s name and was intending to do some research on her. But paraphrasing the late Prince, I got distracted by this thing we call life. I decided to suspend my research on Claudette temporarily, but as you all know how that can sometimes go.

As my readers/friends know, I get my ideas and inspiration for weekly articles from music, news, and life experiences. Recently I was listening and watching the music videos of My Black Story” by Ziggy Marley and “Crayons” by the late Donna Summer featuring Ziggy Marley.

Suddenly out of nowhere, I remembered about Claudette and the research I had wanted to do. I had to find out the tea on why Rosa Parks was getting all the accolades and not Claudette Colvin.
In my mainstream research, I learned that the NAACP did not publicize Claudette’s actions because she was a teenager. The rumor was, she was allegedly pregnant by a married man. That turned out to be moot. Claudette was described by some adults as “feisty,” “mouthy,” and “emotional.” Her older friend and counterpart Rosa Parks was viewed as “calm,” ”

In my mainstream research, I learned that the NAACP did not publicize Claudette’s actions because she was a teenager. The rumor was, she was allegedly pregnant by a married man. That turned out to be moot. Claudette was described by some adults as “feisty,” “mouthy,” and “emotional.” Her older friend and counterpart Rosa Parks was viewed as “calm,” “studios,” and “well-mannered.” I had to consider the social norms of that time (1955). NAACP leaders were worried about using Claudette as the face of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Something still didn’t sit right with me. In my heart of hearts, I had this nagging feeling that some major shade was not being revealed. I then remember being told how funny and informative Comedy Central’s “Drunken History” was.

For those of you who are not familiar with the show “Drunken History”, it is a TV series based on the “Funny or Die’ web series.
The host of the show is Drake Walters. On each episode, an inebriated narrator played by a comedian joins Walters recount an actual event in history while other actors enact the narrator’s modern-day anecdotes and also lip-sync the dialogue from the narrator. A huge shout out must be given to the Fine Arts Community for making learning history fun to learn. #FineArtsRock, #SaveFineArts, #investSupportTheArts.

According to “Drunken History”, Rosa Parks was chosen as the face of The 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, not only because she was an adult, but because she was a fair skin Black woman, unlike Claudette. It was felt White folks would see Rosa Parks as pleasing to the eye. So, that was the X factor I was missing. That self-loathing, self-hating, poisonous thinking was left over from slave days. It not only plagues the African America community to this day, but I also learned it plagues the Latinx community as well. The more closer to White an African American/Latinx looks, for some the more beautiful or handsome one looks.

Claudette Colvin moved to New York and is alive today. She is now in her 70’s. She is still an activist but keeps a low profile. Claudette is very supportive of young peoples’ activism going on today to fight injustice and racial inequality. She feels the fight must continue or we will regress. We have to be in formation for this never-ending fight. Claudette Colvin: An Unsung Shero.

“And a little child shall lead them.”

Chuck’s Chat operates under an open authority. Opinions and comments are always welcome. Send them to¬†soultraindancing@yahoo.com