When Claudette Colvin was the same age as many of your high school students, she refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. But her story and experience aren’t as widely known as those of Rosa Parks, even though she stood up for equal rights much the same way and was one of many civil rights leaders whose courage and bravery inspired a movement and changed history.
In Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice, author Phillip Hoose details Colvin’s story and provides teachers with an important resource for teaching the Civil Rights Movement to high school students. This book is also a great lead in to a more in-depth Civil Rights Movement activity and discussion related to Claudette and other civil rights leaders from the past and present.
Plus, discover more books about the Civil Rights Movement.
While reading, encourage students to reflect on the experience of Claudette while keeping in mind important details and themes that are still relevant to the conversation surrounding equal rights today. The following 12 prompts and discussion questions will help your students understand the struggle Claudette and other African American and civil rights leaders faced to achieve equality and justice for all.
1. What happened to Claudette Colvin at the age of 4? How did this event influence her life?
2. Describe 3 characteristics of the Jim Crow south.
3. What was the purpose of Jim Crow laws?
4. What does “the detested number ten” signify?
5. How did downtown Montgomery make Claudette angry?
6. How was Jeremiah Reeves's arrest a turning point for Claudette?
7. In what ways did Claudette stand up for her own constitutional rights? How were her actions received?
8. Why wasn’t Claudette celebrated like Rosa Parks was?
9. Why was Browder v. Gayle considered a “hot potato?”
10. Why wasn’t Claudette able to celebrate after the court decision? Why was she shunned? What 3 strikes did she have against her?
11. Why does Claudette believe that Rosa Parks was the right person to represent the Civil Rights Movement at that time?
12. Explain the significance of the book’s title Twice Toward Justice?
After writing and discussion, encourage students to look for other civil rights leaders they may not have known about. Use what your students discovered to shape your Civil Rights Movement lesson plans for the future. Check out more books about the Civil Rights Movement here.