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American Civil rights activist Claudette Colvin pictured on April 7, 1998. | Source: The Washington Post / Getty

UPDATED: 11:10 a.m. ET, Dec. 16

Originally published: Oct. 29, 2021

A civil rights icon who had been on probation since 1955 over her arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama has finally had her arrest record expunged following decades of outcry.

Claudette Colvin was 15 years old when she got arrested for not moving to the back of that bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on that fateful day when she and another Black teenager didn’t realize they were sitting next to two white girls, a big no-no in the south during the time.

Colvin’s arrest came about nine months before the Montgomery bus boycott began following the arrest of Rosa Parks for the same Jim Crow-era offense.

MORE: Overshadowed By Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Catalyst Finally Recognized

Now 82, nearly 67 years later, a judge in Montgomery has granted Colvin’s petition to have her arrest record wiped clean, CBS News reported.

“My record was expunged,” Colvin told “CBS Mornings” in an exclusive interview on Thursday. “And my name was cleared. And I’m no longer a juvenile delinquent at 82.”

It was on March 2, 1955, when Colvin and her friend were told to move to the back of the bus. After Colvin refused, the bus driver immediately called the police. Once police arrived on the scene they began to physically remove Clovin from the bus. According to the police report, Clovin kicked and scratched an officer during the incident.

She was immediately arrested, charged with assault, and her case was sent to juvenile court. The judge found her delinquent and placed her on probation.

Before her record was expunged this week, Colvin said she still believed she was on probation. Colvin has never received info that states she has completed her probation and said her family constantly worries that police could come to get her at any time.

“My conviction for standing up for my constitutional right terrorized my family and relatives who knew only that they were not to talk about my arrest and conviction because people in town knew me as ‘that girl from the bus,'” said Colvin in an interview with the Associated Press.

But Colvin and her lawyer still hope to get her record expunged by the Montgomery County court.

Since she was judged as a delinquent, the 85-year-old will have to make her request at a juvenile court.

According to Associated Press, the Montgomery County chief court clerk said he agrees with the request and suggests they isn’t much doubt that Clovin’s record would be expunged, but when that will happen is anyone’s guess.

But whenever it does happen, it will be a special day for Clovin and her family.

“I am an old woman now,” said Colvin. “Having my records expunged will mean something to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And it will mean something for other Black children.”


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