Parkchester street named after woman who didn't give up her bus seat in 1955

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A street in Parkchester was named after Claudette Colvin, who made a brave decision on a southern bus months before Rosa Parks did.

Before Rosa Parks, Colvin was known for being the original woman who did not give up her seat to a white person on the bus. The corner of Unionport Road and East Tremont Avenue will now forever share the intersection with "Claudette Colvin Way."

"They acknowledge that I made a contribution to the civil rights movement," said Colvin. She was the first known woman to refuse giving her seat up on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

The street co-namings are rarely named after living people. Colvin is now 80 years old, but was 15 when she made the brave move on March 2, 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks.

"We stood up and defied segregation and let them know that we wanted to be treated equally and that we wasn't second-class citizens," said Colvin.

Parks' refusal to get up sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a years-long battle in court, which ultimately left the Supreme Court deciding that segregated buses were unconstitutional.

After the ruling, Colvin says she left Montgomery. "I couldn't find work because every time my identity would be revealed, they would say, 'Oh, that's the girl from the bus thing,' and then the employer would fire me," said Colvin.

She says that's when she made her way up north and found herself in the Bronx. She says she has lived here for decades and has raised her children there too.

Friday also marked the fifth-annual celebration of Claudette Colvin Day in New York.

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