A Civil Rights Pioneer Seeks to Have Her Record Cleared

Ka-Santa Sanders, who lives in the King Hill neighborhood in Montgomery, where Ms. Colvin grew up, and has led the efforts to protect Ms. Colvin’s legacy, asked the city earlier this year if anything could be done to honor her and the pivotal role she played in the fight for civil rights.

“Immediately, we started reaching out to people to try to figure out how we could get her record cleaned,” Ms. Sanders said.

But there was one skeptic: Ms. Colvin herself.

Gloria Laster, Ms. Colvin’s sister, said their distrust of the judicial system led them to believe that their efforts would be in vain.

Still, knowing that she would be moving at the end of October to live with her son and grandchildren in Texas, and that this was her last chance at correcting the record for history, Ms. Colvin agreed to proceed. She went to an office in Birmingham, Ala., where she lives in an assisted living center, and filled out the petition.

Ms. Colvin smiled as she signed the affidavit. She wore a pink collared shirt, her eyes behind large rectangular glasses, just as they were in 1955. She was doing it, she said, to “show the generation growing up now that progress is possible and things do get better.”

“The struggle continues,” Ms. Colvin said on Tuesday. “I just don’t want us to regress as a race, as a minority group, and give up hope. Keep the faith, keep on going and keep on fighting.”

The judge who is handling her case, Calvin L. Williams, said in an interview on Monday that he was aware of its historical significance. He is the first Black judge to serve in Alabama’s 15th Judicial Circuit Court.

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