Suggested Teaching Resources for Phillip Hoose’s Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

08 May

By Alyssa Dilday, Dalene Kolb, Maria Lopez, Theresa Miles, Yvonne Rodriguez, Janell Tymony, and Pui Wah Wong.

Abdulaleem, Maryam. “Before There Was Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin.” New York Amsterdam News, 100.4 (2009): 5.

In the articleBefore Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin,” Abdulaleem notes that while Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat officially marked the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it was the Supreme Court case Browder v. Gayle, and Claudette Colvin’s testimony in that case, that ultimately desegregated the buses. Abdaulaleem quotes Hoose’s description of Colvin’s actions: “The bus driver ordered her to get up and she refused, saying she’d paid her fare and it was her constitutional right. Two police officers put her in handcuffs and arrested her. Her school books went flying off her lap.”  “All I remember is that I was not going to walk off the bus voluntarily,” Colvin says.  Hoose says the stories of Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are wonderful, but those are the stories of people in their 30s and 40s. Colvin was fifteen. Hoose feels his book will bring a fresh teen’s perspective to the struggle to end segregation.


Aronson, Marc. “The Greatest Story Never Told: An Interview with National Book Award Winner Phillip Hoose.” School Library Journal. Ed. Phyllis L. Mandell. Posted January 1, 2010. Web. Accessed March 16, 2012. <>.

In this interview with School Library Journal, Phillip Hoose describes his experience writing Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.  After spending four years tracking down Claudette Colvin, Phillip Hoose began to write “the true story of a teen who refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, AL, in 1955”.  Hoose won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for discussing Claudette Colvin’s story.  Hoose’s opinion of what Claudette did as a teenager is very high.  Hoose states, “Talk about stuff that will get you killed.  [Claudette’s story] is better than fiction, because it really happened. My challenge was to find the feelings, the emotional part, inside the story.”


“Black History Month NYC Street Ed: Before Rosa Parks Claudette Colvin.” YouTube, February 29, 2009. Web. Accessed March 16, 2012. <>

This video shows Patrick Barr’s New York City mural that commemorates Claudette Colvin.  The mural states, “Claudette Colvin was fifteen years old and was arrested six months before Rosa Parks for not giving up her bus seat in segregated Montgomery, Alabama, but because Claudette was a pregnant teenager, Rosa Parks became the symbolic leader, but Claudette Colvin is considered the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.”  The other side of the mural quotes Claudette herself:  “Keep on pushing, you can’t stop now.  Move up a little higher.  Someway, somehow cause I got my pride; don’t make much sense not to keep pushing.”

Cappy, Kristen. The Understanding Courage Project. Curious City, 2009. Web. Accessed March 17, 2012. <>.

This excellent source documents the King Middle School students’ attempt to bring Claudette Colvin’s story to the community with the Understanding Courage Project.  Portland, Maine students were directed to select a quotation from Claudette Colvin that had an impact on them and illustrate their reaction; these illustrations were then displayed in the existing advertising space inside the city buses in Portland, Maine. Here you can see some of the students’ artwork and a photo of Claudette Colvin and author Philip Hoose as they react to the completed project. There is also a link to a similar project organized by the students at the University of California, Berkeley.

Folley, Marquette. “381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott.” Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service . Ed. Steve Arnold. Smithsonian Institution, Apr. 2010. Web.  Accessed March 3, 2012. <>.

This is the site for a traveling photography exhibit that toured the southern United States between December 2005 and April 2010 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Though the exhibit can no longer be visited in person, the photographs can be viewed at this site, bringing to life the events that Claudette Colvin put into motion by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white woman. In addition, you can also download the exhibition brochure, which includes an essay by Charles E. Cobbs Jr. (professor of Africana Studies at Brown University) on the lasting significance of the boycott on the civil rights movement.

Levine, Ellen S. Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories. New York: Puffin Books, 2000.

Freedom’s Children is a great resource for those interested in finding out more about the contributions of children and young adults during the civil rights movement. This collection includes thirty true stories about young African Americans who, like Claudette Colvin, faced violence, humiliation, and even death to stand up for their right to equality. In addition to Claudette Colvin, Levine introduces teenager James Robertson of Birmingham, Alabama, who would organize demonstrations on city buses in which activists would remove the color board that divided the bus and sit wherever they pleased.

McDaniel, Kelley. “Curriculum Guide: Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice.” Word Press Blog. Web. Accessed March 3, 2012. <>.

This Curriculum Guide, created by Kelley McDaniel, Librarian of King Middle School in Portland, Maine, is an excellent resource for teachers to use in the classroom. It aims to make students think critically about the actions of Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, and the African-American community by providing questions that prompt group discussion. Additionally, the Discussion Guide describes the creation of a community art installation titled “Understanding Courage,” in which students chose a quotation from the book and wrote their reactions to it; these reactions were placed on the interior advertising spaces of city buses.  (See Cappy, above).


Staino, Rocco. “Hoose’s Claudette Colvin Wins National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.” School Library Journal. Ed. Phyllis L. Mandell. Posted November 18, 2009. Web. Accessed March 16, 2012. <>.

In the article “Hoose’s Claudette Colvin Wins National Book Award for Young People’s Literature,” author Philip Hoose discusses winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and his journey with the School Library Journal.  For his book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, 2009), Hoose spent four years tracking down the now seventy-year-old Colvin, whose courageous act took place just nine months before Rosa Parks’s same stand became a symbol of the Civil Rights movement.  Hoose states, “‘I know they [referring to high school students today] hear the story of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks every Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month, but the immediacy of it, what it would have felt like, how humiliating it was, how unfair it was every day, I think the emotional part of that is fading.  I’m glad to restore it, to try to help. It’s a part of American history that really needs to be remembered.’”

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