HISTORY LESSON: CLAUDETTE COLVIN AND THE POWER OF TEEN MOM ACTIVISM

At the age of 15, Claudette Colvin found out she was pregnant. The following months of her pregnancy would be spent in the United States Supreme Court fighting for the desegregation of the public bus system in Montgomery, Alabama.

Claudette Colvin was 15 years old when she refused to give up her seat for a white woman on a Montgomery, Alabama public bus. Witnesses state that Claudette was thrown off the bus, handcuffed, and jailed for her refusal to vacate her seat. It is important to note that Ms. Colvin’s refusal predates Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of the bus by nine months.

Did you know that in the United States alone 229,715 babies were born to teenage mothers between the age group of 15-19 years? It is not easy for the teenage mother or her family when a girl becomes pregnant. There is a lot of disappointment, rage, anger, shock, and concern not only for the future of the unborn child but the teenager herself who is barely out of childhood. People react to the situation in many ways; the community, neighbors and friends and family everyone have an opinion and something to say about the situation.

Keeping aside the emotional and social aspect of the issue aside, the teenage mother must think of financial help and support. In most cases, it is the teenage mother who bears the brunt of not only bearing the child but also raising the child. You, as a parent or family, must understand the teenager herself is going through a roller coaster ride of emotions even as she adjusts to the rapid physical changes in her body. These youngsters need support not only at home but also at school. They need to be educated on taking care of themselves and the baby within with proper diet and exercise. There are several reputable websites that provide information on how to deal with teen pregnancy.

As a former teenage mother–I also had my daughter at 15 years old–and activist Ms. Colvin’s life inspires and saddens me beyond belief. Society seems to believe that the most effective way to deal with teenage pregnancy, and more specifically teenage mothers, is to look down on us, ridicule us, belittle us, and often times force us out of school. In communities of color it seems all of these hurtful tactics are sometimes amplified.