She Persisted: Claudette Colvin
Lesa Cline-Ransome and Chelsea Clinton, Authors
Gillian Flint, Illustrator (Interior illustrations)
Philomel Books, Non-fiction, Feb. 2, 2021
Suitable for ages: 6-9
Themes: Claudette Colvin, Segregation, Racism, Standing up for what is right
On March 2, 1955 15-year-old Claudette Colvin and her classmates bordered a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and paid their fare to the driver. Since there were no white people on the bus that spring afternoon, they were allowed to walk through the bus to the Black section without having to disembark and reenter through the back door. Claudette settled into a seat by herself while her classmates filled other seats. As the bus continued, white riders began to board and quickly filled the bus. In Montgomery, Alabama, if all the seats were filled in the white section, the Black passengers had to give up their seats.
When a white woman demanded her seat, Claudette refused to move. It didn’t seem fair to Claudette that she’d have to give up her seat because of her color. When police boarded the bus and asked her if she was going to move, Claudette courageously said “It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare…” Police grabbed her arms and pulled her off the bus, shoved her into the back of their cruiser, and called her terrible names. To tune out their abusive language, she quietly recited the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Claudette was arrested and put in jail, where she continued to pray and tried to stand up to their racism. With support from Black leaders and a community who raised the money to hire a good attorney, Fred Gray, Claudette went to trial. She was taking on Montgomery, whose bus laws and racist system of segregation were illegal, according to the Supreme Court. Claudette was found guilty by the white judge. Black people decided to not ride buses in protest and began to walk or carpool to work. In losing she ignited a revolution that would be picked up by Rosa Parks nine months later, when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.
Lesa Cline-Ransome has written an inspiring and compelling biography about Claudette, who is not been widely known for her brave stand against an injustice. She played an important role in the civil rights movement in Montgomery. She met Rosa Parks at a youth NAACP meeting before her trial, so readers can only imagine that Parks had been inspired by Claudette’s courage.
The story-like text moves along at a quick pace, relating important information that readers will find appealing. It is well-targeted for its intended audience. At the end, Cline-Ransom includes a section for readers about “How You Can Persist,” and additional reading about Claudette. Gillian Flint’s expressive and simple pen and ink drawings compliment the story for readers and give them a peek into her world.
Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!
Cline-Ransome is among a group of authors who have been invited by Chelsea Clinton to write chapters books for young readers about the childhood and lives of remarkable women. Clinton is calling it the “Persisterhood.” If you are looking for biographies of famous girls/women to inspire young readers, this series is perfect. There are 13 books about American women that are being released monthly through December. They include Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Virginia Apgar, Nelly Bly, Sonia Sotomayor, Florence Griffith Joiner, Ruby Bridges, Clara Lemlich, Margaret Chase Smith, Maria Tall Chief, Helen Keller and Oprah Winfrey.
Lesa Cline-Ransom is the author of many award-winning and critically acclaimed books for young readers including Not Playing By the Rules: 21 Female Athletes Who Changes Sports, Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star, Before She Was Harriet, Overground Railroad, Finding Langston and Leaving Lymon. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York with her family. Visits her online at her website. Or follow her on Twitter @lclineransome.