By Blair L. M. Kelley

Via a reexamination of the earliest struggles opposed to Jim Crow, Blair Kelley exposes the fullness of African American efforts to withstand the passage of segregation legislation dividing trains and streetcars by means of race within the early Jim Crow period. Right to Ride chronicles the litigation and native organizing opposed to segregated rails that resulted in the Plessy v. Ferguson determination in 1896 and the streetcar boycott circulate waged in twenty-five southern towns from 1900 to 1907. Kelley tells the tales of the courageous yet little-known women and men who confronted down the violence of lynching and concrete race riots to contest segregation.

Focusing on 3 key cities--New Orleans, Richmond, and Savannah--Kelley explores the neighborhood firms that certain protestors jointly and the divisions of sophistication, gender, and ambition that typically drove them aside. The booklet forces a reassessment of the timelines of the black freedom fight, revealing interval as soon as disregarded because the age of lodging may still actually be characterised as a part of a heritage of protest and resistance.

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Additional resources for Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture)

Example text

White conductors in Louisiana even denied service to the state’s African American lieutenant governor, Oscar J. ∏ African Americans could not predict whether they would encounter 34 the color line and the ladies’ car discrimination on any given journey on the rails or streetcars. π Those who could a√ord first-class tickets were not always properly accommodated. Conductors might choose to enforce the color line at their own discretion, moving black passengers to smoking cars or even ejecting African Americans from trains well before they had arrived at their destination.

The Supreme Court institutionalized legal segregation, making the phrase ‘‘separate but equal’’ the new standard. Indeed, Plessy opened the floodgates of southern segregation. Plessy’s prominence, however, has left many people with the mistaken notion that segregation began at that moment and that it was really just a southern problem. Lost is the collective understanding that Jim Crow segregation began long before Plessy and far from the trains of New Orleans. ∞ In New York City, the heart of urban America in 1854, Elizabeth Jennings, a young schoolteacher and church organist, was ejected from a white car on her way to church.

By 1890, 90 percent of southerners lived in counties serviced by the rails. ≥ But the presence of black travelers, particularly elite and middle-class patrons, threatened the stability of the racial order in an increasingly fluid society. Prior to the Civil War, most black riders, predominantly slaves, were relegated to ‘‘combination cars,’’ spaces divided into both luggage and passenger compartments attached behind the engine. These impromptu cars, where black passengers paid half fare, were developed explicitly for black riders.

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