15-Year-Old Civil Rights Heroine Inspires New Play

Claudette Colvin (left) pictured in November of last year and as a child around 1953.

Bianca Sams

By David Scott Playwright Bianca Sams is presenting ‘’Battle Cry,’’ a play based on the life of little known civil rights heroine Claudette Colvin. At the age of 15 in the Deep South, Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a Montgomery Alabama bus, nine months prior to the arrest of Rosa Parks that led to the bus boycott that changed history. Her case was briefly considered as the test case for the cause that eventually sparked the Civil Rights Movement but was quickly discarded by its leaders. She became a social outcast for a time. Claudette Colvin might not have been the face to launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott, but   her voice helped silence segregation on buses. She was the star witness in the Browder vs. Gayle lawsuit, a case that reached the Supreme Court and eventually ended the system of separate and unequal laws. “Battle Cry” tells the personal story of a naive but passionate 15-year-old girl who made an impact on the world. Playwright Bianca Sams is a Bay Area native who is currently pursuing her MFA at Ohio University. “As a female playwright of color, I am drawn to stories that question the roles of women, ethnicity, and family in modern society, that deal with the search for self in the collective identity and which explore underlying connective threads of mankind,” she said. In her work she focuses on whether the stress and pain we inflict upon ourselves and others actually purifies or destroys the fabric of humanity. Her plays are lyrical investigations of found stories out of today’s headlines or the pages of history that ask audiences to face their own complex love affair with misery. Her full-length plays include “At The Rivers End,” “Battle Cry,” and “Summer Nights and Fireflies.” Join Sams at the Footlights Reading Series Presentation of” Battle Cry,” Monday, Jan. 7,  at 6:30 p.m. at The Tides Theater, 533 Sutter St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco. Tickets are free, but donations are appreciated.  RSVP at Eventbrite or via e-mail@bs976411@ohio.edu.
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