Finished: Claudette Colvin on the Bus

And now I’m done.

This is the final version of my illustration of Claudette Colvin refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus on March 2, 1955 in Montgomery, AL. She was 15 years old and was riding the city bus home from school. Because she refused, police were called and she was arrested.

This was 9 months before Rosa Parks did the same thing, but they were not the only ones. Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Jeanetta Reese also refused to give up their seats.   Their arrests were the trigger for the Montgomery AL bus boycott that ran from December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956. All these women were plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit against the city of Montgomery, AL and the bus company. On June 5, 1956 the court found that bus segregation was unconstitutional but it was sent to the US Supreme Court and through an appeal before the city and bus company were finally forced to integrate the buses on December 20, 1956.

A historical illustration of Claudette Colvin as she refuses to vacate her seat on a Motgomery Alabama bus on March 2, 1955.

There are two photos of Miss Colvin taken around that time which I used for references on her likeness and a hint at the clothing she might have worn that day. I’m not sure what color she’d have worn, but red illustrates anger and stands out nicely from the green bus seats. I always draw kids with big eyes, so her eyes are disproportional. I hope that doesn’t throw off her likeness too much. I think her face could be a little narrower, but then the huge eyes wouldn’t fit. I got her chin with that little almost-cleft. The nose is pretty close. Glasses and hair are right, I think. I got her coloring from a color photo of her as an adult.

I didn’t find any references to who the white woman was who demanded that Miss Colvin move or any of the other passengers on the bus. So, I used my imagination and designed some generic characters with 1950s clothes and hair. I hope I didn’t make the women too colorful. I got their fashions from vintage photos and drawings.

The bus interior is based on several reference photos of buses of that era.


What historical figure should I tackle next?


I sketched this today because I broke my foot last week. This is the boot I’m now wearing. Apparently, they don’t put you in a cast for a broken foot anymore. Instead, you wear this thing.

(I’m fine. It only hurts if I bump it. I’ll probably be able to walk on it in a couple of days. I fell because my foot went sideways when stepping in a pothole in a patio at a local restaurant. Apparently even outdoor dining is dangerous.)