The Book & Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin:
Twice Towards Justice
By Phillip Hoose
Hardcover, $19.95
Farrar, Straus & Giroux Publishers
ISBN: 9780374313227
Age 13-Adult

“Inspiring.” —Kirkus Reviews

A National Book Award Finalist

On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders.

Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South.

Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.

The Understanding Courage Project

Community Interaction with the Story of Unsung Civil Rights Hero, Claudette Colvin

Schools have chosen not only to read and discuss Claudette Colvin's story, but to bring that story to the community by illustrating her act of courage to current bus riders.

Using existing bus advertising placement as exhibit space, schools have created an installment of student-gernerated art pieces that tell the story of Claudette Colvin's act of courage.

Why Bus Riders?
Because Claudette Colvin’s act of courage aboard a Montgomery city bus was a decisive step to ending segregation on US transportation, the “Understanding Courage Project" brings Claudette Colvin’s story to town, city, or school bus riders.

Why Teenagers?
Because Claudette Colvin's act of courage came from the assurance and strength of a teenager, the project uses middle and high school students to tell Claudette’s story to the public.

Who Are Potential Community Partners?
Organizers have approached town and city officials and their local bus company to discuss a partnership with the school in telling Claudette Colvin's story to the public. Organizers have partnered for funding with area humanities organizations, local chapters of the NAACP, local peace and justice organizations, churches, universities, bookstores, and other organizations for funding.

The Project:

Creating Community Partners

1) Identify and contact a school or community youth group that you believe would benefit from interacting with Claudette Colvin's story.

2) Identify and contact community organizations and funding sources that support interaction with literature, interaction with history, youth empowerment, non-violent solutions, human rights, and/or African American community projects.

3) Write grant proposals to cover the Understanding Courage budget.

VIEW a Budget for Project (TBA)
VIEW & COPY a Sample Grant Text

Working with the Book

1) Self-selected and faculty-recommended students read the book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Phillip Hoose. Grant-funding has included the purchase of a complete classroom set of the book.

2) Students discuss the book with the guidance a librarian, language arts, or history teacher.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD Discussion Questions by School Librarian, Kelley McDaniel

The Art Project

1) Following the discussions, each student selects a quote by Claudette Colvin or an aspect of her story to focus on. With the assistance of the teacher, the students craft a description of her quote or story and potentially their reaction to it.

2) That description and reaction become the central component of an art piece created by the student with the guidance of art educators. Past groups have used as their "canvas" the backsides of old bus advertisements donated by the bus company.

3) Those art pieces are then be displayed in the interior advertising slots of a town, city, or school buses.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD Art Project by Art Educator Simon Adams

The Exhibit

1) One central sign for the bus can be created to explain the project to the community.

2) The exhibit can be parked for citizens to view and/or allowed to tour various bus routes were it will be viewed by bus riders.

3) An online survey can be created to track riders' reactions and to demonstrate results to funders.

VIEW Pictures of the Exhibit from Portland, ME U.C. Project
DOWNLOAD Sample Survey Questions
DOWNLOAD Survey Result from Portland, ME U.C. Project

Other Questions:
Please feel free to use any of the above materials. Any questions about the Understanding Courage Project should be directed to Kirsten Cappy of Curious City. She can be reached at 207-699-2755 or

Sponsors & Partners of Portland's Understanding Courage Project

Thank You to Our Sponsors:
Thank You to Our Partners: