February 28, 2018

ASU professor shines a light on news coverage of Civil Rights Movement and the importance of black newspapers

In 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her Montgomery, Alabama, bus seat to a white passenger and was arrested.

But you probably haven't heard of her.

Nine months later, Rosa Parks made the same bold gesture and became a national icon. The difference? Colvin's story was covered only by the black press and was blatantly ignored by white newspapers. 

“If journalism is the first rough draft of history, white newspapers were the first to write Colvin out of our nation’s history,” said Professor Matthew Delmont, director of the School for Historical Philosophical and Religious Studies.  

In a new video, Delmont highlights the critical role of "the fighting press," and how that valiant effort laid the groundwork for today's social-media activism. 


Top photo: "The Year They Walked," a monument to the Montgomery Bus Boycott at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Kelsey Wharton

Science Writer , Knowledge Enterprise Development