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July 11, 2013

NEWARK, NJ — The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today honored Civil Rights pioneer Claudette Colvin during its monthly meeting with the passage of a resolution recognizing her role in desegregating public transportation.  The recognition was made just prior to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington that took place in 1963.


“Ms. Colvin’s tremendous contributions to the civil rights movement had a major impact on public transportation in the United States, and thanks to her, the benefits of public transportation are available to all equally regardless of race, color or creed,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director James Weinstein.  “On behalf of NJ TRANSIT, we are honored to recognize Ms. Colvin for her contributions.”


The resolution praised Ms. Colvin, a current resident of the Bronx in New York City, for her actions as a 15-year-old high school student who consciously defied the system of racial segregation by refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white person as was required by law in Montgomery, Alabama. Ms. Colvin was arrested and charged with the crime of breaking the segregationist bus transportation laws for her courageous act of civil disobedience on March 2, 1955—nine months before the arrest of Mrs. Rosa Parks and the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott lead by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The legal case of Claudette Colvin was joined with those of three other women who challenged segregationist laws, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith, and they became the plaintiffs in the case Browder v. Gayle before the United States Supreme Court, which declared racial segregation on the buses of Montgomery and the nation unconstitutional.




NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 895,000 weekday trips on 261 bus routes, three light rail lines, 12 commuter rail lines and through Access Link paratransit service. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 164 rail stations, 61 light rail stations and more than 19,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.