Home Open Account Help 162 users online

Nostalgia & History > Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars


Pages:  [ 1 ][ 2 ] [ Next ]
Current Page:1 of 2


Date: 05/17/06 21:53
Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: stivmac

In the bad old days, when "seperate but equal" was the rule, various southern states required seperate passenger cars for African-Americans. My history class is studying the Civil Rights movement of the 50's and a question was raised about trains originating in non-segregation states. Did blacks have to stay segregated (for instance, on the Southern RR) if they were riding in non-segregated states? Thanks!



Date: 05/18/06 03:38
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: wlankenau

Good question. In addition, what about occupying sleeping cars, or eating in the diner in segregated states?



Date: 05/18/06 04:41
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: johnacraft

stivmac Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In the bad old days, when "seperate but equal" was
> the rule, various southern states required
> seperate passenger cars for African-Americans. My
> history class is studying the Civil Rights
> movement of the 50's and a question was raised
> about trains originating in non-segregation
> states. Did blacks have to stay segregated (for
> instance, on the Southern RR) if they were riding
> in non-segregated states? Thanks!

If you haven't come across http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/home.htm yet, it's a good resource, summarizing the Jim Crow laws in each state separately over time.

Prior to 1946, a passenger traveling from Cincinnati to Birmingham on Southern could have technically boarded and sat in integrated fashion, only to have to move as soon as the train crossed the Ohio River bridge and entered Ludlow, Ky. (Ohio BARRED separate accomodations, Kentucky REQUIRED them.)

Traveling from Mississippi to Chicago on Illinois Central, a black passenger could get up and change seats as the train crossed the Metropolis bridge.


In 1946 the Supreme Court invalidated segregation of Interstate travel. In Morgan v. Virginia, the U. S. Supreme Court by a seven-- one vote, held the state law unconstitutional as it applied to interstate passengers. It was the first real crack in the Jim Crow laws. After Brown v. Board of Education (1954), many southern state legislatures re-passed their segregation laws in 1955 or 1956 as a show of resistance. Alabama was one of these, and it was one of the motivations for the Montgomery bus boycotts, which marked a change in strategy from careful progress in the courts to mass non-violent protests.

Edited to add: here's an interesting write-up about a group of black and white men who took what might be described as the first "freedom rides" in 1947:

http://www.socialdemocrats.org/jimcrow.html

"The executive committee of the Congress of Racial Equality and the racial-industrial committee of the Fellowship of Reconciliation decided that they should jointly sponsor a "Journey of Reconciliation" through the upper South, in order to determine to how great an extent bus and train companies were recognizing the Morgan decision. They also wished to learn the reaction of bus drivers, passengers, and police to those who nonviolently and persistently challenge Jim Crow in interstate travel.

During the two-week period from April 9 to April 23, 1947, an interracial group of men, traveling as a deputation team, visited fifteen cities in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. More than thirty speaking engagements were met before church, NAACP, and college groups. The Morgan decision was explained and reports made on what was happening on buses and trains in the light of this decision. The response was most enthusiastic."

JAC



Date: 05/18/06 08:54
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: iliketrains

The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum has two of these cars:

http://www.psrm.org/roster/passenger/combine3/index.html

http://www.psrm.org/roster/passenger/co-14/index.html

The #3 is undergoing a complete restoration. Stop by Campo to see the progress.



Date: 05/18/06 08:57
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: stivmac

Thanks John!!! This was really helpful. The websites are great resources!



Date: 05/18/06 12:59
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: mp16

The April 9, 1956 Central of Georgia Railroad timetable has a specific notation for their famous train, "Nancy Hanks II" which ran between Savannah and Atlanta: "Seats for white passengers" reserved." I wonder if this is a unique form of segregation. And I also wonder if this meant that cars for white passengers were air-conditioned while those for blacks were not.



Date: 05/18/06 15:21
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: johnacraft

mp16 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The April 9, 1956 Central of Georgia Railroad
> timetable has a specific notation for their
> famous train, "Nancy Hanks II" which ran between
> Savannah and Atlanta: "Seats for white passengers"
> reserved." I wonder if this is a unique form of
> segregation. And I also wonder if this meant that
> cars for white passengers were air-conditioned
> while those for blacks were not.


"The Nancy" was re-equipped with new coaches in 1947. The order included four regular coaches, and four "partition coaches" for Jim Crow service. All the cars were modern, sealed-window streamlined - no way they weren't air-conditioned, but the "colored" section of the partition coaches would have been less plush.

http://srha.com/photos/NancyHanksIIL.jpg


As for reservations: I don't know if refusing reservations was common or not. I've never seen it in a timetable - could you scan it and post it here?

JAC



Date: 05/18/06 16:00
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: mundo

On the Southern Pacific Sunset route, any coach could be used.

However at El Paso, all would move to the Jim Crow car.

When the "New Budd Sunset Limited was ordered it was felt that one partition coach would be enough.

However it was soon found that more then just 1/3 of a coach wanted to travel, so soon one full coach of the Sunset became the "Jim Crow" car
all the way. This was car 20 eastbound, car 10 westbound.

Most of them did not mind traveling out of Los Angeles in car 20, since they would not have to move once they got to El Paso.

But once in a while, a caller would say, "Do not place me in car 20"
so we reminded them what would happen at El Paso and the Texas Rangers!

More on this subject is in a new book in preparation by the SP Historical society on the Story of the Sunset.

Most diners in the south would have two tables behind a glass or cloth Partition, at one end of the car.



Date: 05/18/06 22:03
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: ts1457

mp16 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The April 9, 1956 Central of Georgia Railroad
> timetable has a specific notation for their
> famous train, "Nancy Hanks II" which ran between
> Savannah and Atlanta: "Seats for white passengers"
> reserved." I wonder if this is a unique form of
> segregation. And I also wonder if this meant that
> cars for white passengers were air-conditioned
> while those for blacks were not.

The Nancy Hanks II run was intrastate, entirely within the state of Georgia. That is why they could get away with that segregation of railroad passenger service at such a late date.



Date: 05/19/06 02:32
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: dan

A nice partioned coach is at the gold coast museum with a triangle or double sided sign that you can flip to read white, colored or blank maybe. A previous poster talked about on the Southern if the ticket agent didn't know you, or what race you were, (you were sold a ticket over the phone, remotely), your tix would be in a fictitious car and then upon your contact with RR personnel they put you in your place upon seeing you, and perhaps apologizing for the "mix up".



Date: 05/19/06 15:16
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: CZ10

The coach at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum is ex Seaboard Airline #259. It's very unusual since it's a "Jim Crow" combine. I don't know why the signs were triangular, unless it was to allow it to operate where segregation was prohibited. When the car ran in regular museum service in the 1970's, we generally kept the signs blank. Occasionally I'd come through the car and do the very politically incorrect action of turning the signs. It was fun watching the expression of various passengers, and how some of them would change compartments (grin).



Date: 05/19/06 15:51
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: scottp

What a sad history...
however, if such segregation in public accomodations could be brought back now, to apply to bratty kids and crying babies, I'd support it!



Date: 05/19/06 16:05
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: stivmac

To add another question--an earlier poster mentioned newer cars built w/probable A/C for all, just a partition. Weren't most of the Crow cars older with less than "equal" seating? I seem to have read that many were older heavyweights, w/benches, wood or coal stove, maybe one unisex restroom and even a battered upright piano so "them darkies could sing and dance". (Please don't take offense at the slur in the quotes, I'm just trying to depict the attitude of so many whites at the time, CERTAINLY not my own!) Hardly within the spirit of "seperate but 'equal.'"



Date: 05/19/06 18:16
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: chakk

"Separate" waiting rooms can still be seen at several Amtrak stations in the south -- Atlanta and West Palm Beach, for example -- although both sections are no longer used for passenger waiting. I also remember seeing water fountains at the Culpepper, VA station on the Southern marked "Whites Only" and "Colored Only" in the late 1950's.



Date: 05/19/06 22:09
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: ts1457

stivmac Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> To add another question--an earlier poster
> mentioned newer cars built w/probable A/C for all,
> just a partition. Weren't most of the Crow cars
> older with less than "equal" seating? I seem to
> have read that many were older heavyweights,
> w/benches, wood or coal stove, maybe one unisex
> restroom and even a battered upright piano so
> "them darkies could sing and dance". (Please don't
> take offense at the slur in the quotes, I'm just
> trying to depict the attitude of so many whites at
> the time, CERTAINLY not my own!) Hardly within the
> spirit of "seperate but 'equal.'"

You can find examples of inferior equipment being used for "colored" passengers. However the passenger departments of railroads operating in the segregated South were not dumb. They recognized that the black population was a big part of their passenger revenues. Within the legal restraints and customs of the segregated South, they would rather not alienate a big part of their passenger business. You could see that in the attempt to provide equivalent coach accommodations during the streamliner era and postwar WWII modernization. Access to dining, lounge, and sleeping cars was a different matter though. The railroads knew that segregation increased their operating costs. However decisions were made early on to endure and possibly pay out on a Federal civil rights suit, rather than face criminal charges and fines under state "Jim Crow" laws.



Date: 05/19/06 22:46
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: ts1457

dan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> .... A previous poster talked about on the Southern if
> the ticket agent didn't know you, or what race you
> were, (you were sold a ticket over the phone,
> remotely), your tix would be in a fictitious car
> and then upon your contact with RR personnel they
> put you in your place upon seeing you, and perhaps
> apologizing for the "mix up".

I hadn't heard about that tactic, but it sounds plausible. Blacks generally were forbidden from riding in Pullman's in the "Jim Crow" states. I think I have seen accounts of where ones showed up with reservations and were insistent that they be honored. In such a cases, an "upgrade" to a room instead of a section sometimes took care of the problem.



Date: 05/19/06 23:10
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: stivmac

Interesting how money overcomes ideology! Although set after segregation was supposedly banned, the movie "In the Heat of the Night" shows the still strong sentiments of the era. Great shot at the end of a GM&O train picking up Sidney Poitier. Not sure if its an F or an E unit. BTW, my students were VERY impressed at the depth of knowlege you all showed! Thanks again!



Date: 05/20/06 05:16
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: johnacraft

stivmac Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> To add another question--an earlier poster
> mentioned newer cars built w/probable A/C for all,
> just a partition. Weren't most of the Crow cars
> older with less than "equal" seating? I seem to
> have read that many were older heavyweights,
> w/benches, wood or coal stove, maybe one unisex
> restroom and even a battered upright piano so
> "them darkies could sing and dance".

OK, the piano is hilarious. (Try to get a piano into a coach some time. The American Orient Express did it - by removing the roof, as I recall. Then, try to keep it in tune.) No way.

There is probably a precedent for every nasty story you've ever heard (except for the piano) on a shortline somewhere. But for every shortline determined to humiliate its black passengers, there was one who treated them humanely.

And Class 1s were in the transportation business, not the humiliation business. We refer to combines with the baggage compartment in the center as "Jim Crow combines," but cars built specifically to separate were an expensive and inflexible solution. What happens if you have more whites (or blacks) than seats in "their" section? Oops. In reality, any car is a "Jim Crow" car if you put the whites in one end, and the blacks in the other, like a bus. That was good enough to satisfy the law.

I doubt many cars were every CONSTRUCTED with inferior accomodations for blacks (in the 20th Century, at least). The entire history of transportation is one of rising expectations, and new cars were always ordered for the most lucrative service (i.e. virtually 100% white), and older cars "bumped down" to lesser trains.

I noticed a novel "segregation" practice on intra-European flights: a plane fitted for intra-European service had identical seats in all rows, and a curtain assembly that could be moved forward or back inside the cabin instead of a bulkhead to separate business class from coach. Business class passengers got the same seat, but better service, and the airline didn't have to limit the business class tickets to the "good seats."

Back to the CofG 1947 car order. I can well imagine that railroad management hedged their investment by ordering cars that could be "desegregated" very simply and cheaply removing that partition - they probably realized that segregation couldn't last forever.

JAC



Date: 05/20/06 08:21
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: ts1457

johnacraft Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> And Class 1s were in the transportation business,
> not the humiliation business. We refer to
> combines with the baggage compartment in the
> center as "Jim Crow combines," but cars built
> specifically to separate were an expensive and
> inflexible solution. What happens if you have
> more whites (or blacks) than seats in "their"
> section? Oops. In reality, any car is a "Jim
> Crow" car if you put the whites in one end, and
> the blacks in the other, like a bus. That was
> good enough to satisfy the law.

The center baggage door cars were for branchline service that did not carry many passengers at all. I have seen the files on Southern Railway's conversions starting in the thirties. The justification was to reduce equipment needs. Southern's "three-way cars" replaced a combine and a coach. As for any car being a Jim Crow car, I think some states probably had legal requirements as to partitions and restroom arrangements.

> I doubt many cars were every CONSTRUCTED with
> inferior accommodations for blacks (in the 20th
> Century, at least). The entire history of
> transportation is one of rising expectations, and
> new cars were always ordered for the most
> lucrative service (i.e. virtually 100% white), and
> older cars "bumped down" to lesser trains.

Partitioned coaches that Southern bought in the teens and twenties had the rollover signs so that the sections could be used as needed.

> I noticed a novel "segregation" practice on
> intra-European flights: a plane fitted for
> intra-European service had identical seats in all
> rows, and a curtain assembly that could be moved
> forward or back inside the cabin instead of a
> bulkhead to separate business class from coach.
> Business class passengers got the same seat, but
> better service, and the airline didn't have to
> limit the business class tickets to the "good
> seats."

I don't know if that solution was used, but then again it would depend on state law. Some Georgia RR coaches had multiple partitions deviding the car into maybe 4 sections. They could start loading the races at opposite ends and use the middle sections according to passenger loads.

> Back to the CofG 1947 car order. I can well
> imagine that railroad management hedged their
> investment by ordering cars that could be
> "desegregated" very simply and cheaply removing
> that partition - they probably realized that
> segregation couldn't last forever.

As you pointed out above, nothing had to be changed to integrate. I don't recall coaches that had partitions removed after desegregation. Some passengers liked the atmosphere of smaller seating areas. Southern Railway, starting around 1940, rebuilt some heavyweight coaches with center restrooms serving as partitions. For obvious reasons those did not change.



Date: 05/20/06 08:39
Re: Question about segregated "Jim Crow" cars
Author: stivmac

Interesting material. From an economic angle, it all makes sense and shows us how urban legends need examination. I've read the piano bit in US history text books! Pity they felt the need to exagerate to illustrate the evils of segregation. I'm thinking the writers knew little of RR's (they seldom get enough space in relating how incredibly important they have been) and figured that no one would care.



Pages:  [ 1 ][ 2 ] [ Next ]
Current Page:1 of 2


[ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.1781 seconds