Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Letter from Birmingham Jail

Part Two: Claudette Colvin

Who is Claudette Colvin and why do traditional historical narratives ignore her actions?

  Activity/Instructions  
 
  1. Opening Activity: Review the boycott handbill. Ask students to create a list of questions about Claudette Colvin, incorrectly referred to as "Claudette Colbert" in the handbill.
  2. Classroom Activity: Using the Document Analysis Worksheet ask students to analyze: Colvin's Arrest Report and Virginia Durr's letter about Colvin arrest. As an additional assignment you may ask students to analyze the Montgomery Improvement Association Meeting Minutes.
  3. Discuss/Reflection Questions: Who is Claudette Colvin and why do traditional historical narratives ignore her actions? What was the role of young people in the civil rights movement? What role do young people play in social justice movements today? Who constructs history? Who chooses the nation's story?
  4. Classroom Activity: Read Freedom's Children by Ellen Levine and watch video clip of Colvin's interview at the King Institute. Have students write their own entry about Colvin for their US History textbook.
 
 

Materials/Links

 
  Documents:     Resources:  
     
  • King Encyclopedia
  • Freedom's Children by Ellen Levine
  • Colvin's interview at the King Institute
 
  Assignment Options:        
  • Research young activists during the African American freedom struggle in the past and present. Some ideas for research include the following; Barbara Johns, John Lewis, Freedom Summer, Children's Crusade, The Little Rock Nine, Diane Nash, Mary Louise Smith.
 

Questions:

Who is Claudette Colvin and why is she left out of the mainstream historical narrative?

 
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