Receive Persecution

Claudette Colvin

What does that mean that they received railing and persecution? Does it mean they were passive doormats? Was this a matter of choosing between two bad options: either fight back with persecution and railing or stay silent and just take it.

Are you being a doormat if you “receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions?”

Did you know before Rosa Parks there was Claudette Colvin?

At the age of 15, she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white person. 

At the time, Colvin was a student at Booker T. Washington High School. Colvin’s family didn’t own a car, so she relied on the city’s gold-and-green buses to get to school. On March 2, 1955, she boarded a public bus and, shortly thereafter, refused to give up her seat to a white man. Colvin was coming home from school that day when she got on a Capital Heights bus downtown at the same place Parks boarded another bus months later. Colvin was sitting about two seats from the emergency exit when four whites boarded and the driver ordered her, along with three other black passengers, to get up. She refused and was removed from the bus by two police officers, who took her to jail.

“The bus was getting crowded and I remember him (the bus driver) looking through the rear view mirror asking her to get up out of her seat, which she didn’t,” said a classmate at the time, Annie Larkins Price. “She didn’t say anything. She just continued looking out the window. She decided on that day that she wasn’t going to move.” Other black passengers complied; Colvin ignored the driver. The driver walked back and asked her again.

Police were summoned. Two officers approached Colvin, who started crying as she tried to explain herself. One of them kicked the thin teenager and knocked the textbooks from her arms.”They dragged her off that bus,” says Price, who was sitting behind her classmate. “The rest of us stayed quiet. People were too scared to say anything.”

Colvin was handcuffed and taken to the city jail, where she was charged with disorderly conduct, violating the segregation ordinance and assault and battery, presumably because she clawed the officers with her long fingernails.

She was thrown in a cell by herself until her mother and minister came to bail her out. That night, her father sat up with a gun in case of trouble.

–See Congress of Racial Equality

Receiving “railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions” isn’t about giving people permission to take advantage of you, it’s not about rolling over either. It’s important to note that in that verse it also states that when they would receive persecution, that they “would not turn and revile again.” It’s not about being a doormat. It’s about responding to persecution without “reviling back.” It’s the ability to confront, not ignore, injustice without using unjust behavior to deal with it.

In the words of David Pulsipher, this type of behavior “Is anything but weak. It requires incredible courage to neither submit nor strike back but instead to meet malice with loving resistance…Don’t strike back. But don’t surrender, either. Don’t give in. Find similarly wise, creative, and effective ways to break your cycle of conflict and retaliation.”

When We Don’t See Eye to Eye, David Pulsipher, p 36.