Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 5

Early Champions of Streetcar Desegregation
AS THE PUBLIC TRANSIT INDUSTRY
marks black history month (-February),
Passenger Transport reflects on the
efforts of three women who, one
hundred years before Rosa Parks
challenged segregation on public transportation, laid the groundwork for public
transit desegregation in New York City
and San Francisco.

New York City
On July 15, 1854, Elizabeth Jennings
Graham boarded a whites-only streetcar
on her way to church. When the conductor refused her service, she stood
her ground, asserting her right to board
any streetcar in the city. After she was
removed by police, the incident sparked
an organized movement to end racial
discrimination on streetcars, as detailed
by CBS Sunday Morning correspondent
and humorist Mo Rocca's 2019 book,
Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving.
Graham filed a lawsuit against the
Third Avenue Railroad Company, which
she won in 1855. She was represented
by the law firm of Culver, Parker and
Arthur and her case was handled by the
firm's 24-year-old junior partner Chester
A. Arthur, future president of the United
States.
The judge declared that black passengers had the same rights as white
passengers and could neither be
"excluded by any rules of the company,
nor by force or violence." The Third
Avenue Railroad Company ordered its
cars desegregated the very next day.
By 1860, all the city's streetcar lines
were open to African Americans.

San Francisco
Things continued to heat up in the
1860s in San Francisco. In 1863,
-Charlotte Brown was also asked to
leave a streetcar because of her race.
Like -Graham, Brown asserted she had
a right to ride and refused to leave.
After she was forcefully removed by the
Omnibus Railroad Company conductor, Brown sued the company and was
awarded $500-a very large sum for the
time, considering the price of a streetcar ticket was 5 cents.
Brown's case paved the way for
other cases brought by San Francisco
African Americans, like Mary Ellen
Pleasant in 1866, that challenged the
"whites-only" practices of the city's
streetcars.
Pleasant was a well-known abolitionist, who helped lead many slaves to
freedom on the Underground Railroad.
When she and two other black women
were ejected from a streetcar in 1866,
she filed two lawsuits, the second of
which (Pleasant v. North Beach & Mission Railroad Company) went to the
California Supreme Court. The court
outlawed segregation on streetcars in
the city, and in 1893, streetcar segregation was officially outlawed on
statewide streetcars by the California
legislature.

Leaving a Legacy
In 1974, San Francisco's smallest park
was memorialized in honor of Pleasant
with a plaque and six eucalyptus trees
from her property. Pleasant Street on
Nob Hill is also named after her.

Elizabeth Jennings Graham

Mary Ellen Pleasant

In 2019, the City of New York
announced plans to build a statue of
Graham in the Vanderbilt Avenue Corridor near Grand Central Terminal in
Manhattan. "A monument to Elizabeth
Jennings Graham next to Grand Central

Terminal, the city's most iconic transit
hub, highlights the interconnected history of civil rights and transportation
in New York as well as the historic role
of this important activist," said a press
release from the city.

Lextran
Reserves a Seat
for Rosa Parks
Lextran in Lexington, KY, reserved a
seat on each of its buses in honor of
Rosa Parks, Feb. 3-7, commemorating Black History Month. The reserved
seats featured a picture of Parks as well
as a QR code directing riders to books
at the Lexington Public Library about
Parks.

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FEBRUARY 24, 2020 |

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Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4

Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - Cover1
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - Cover2
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 3
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 4
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 5
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 6
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 7
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 8
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 9
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - 10
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - Cover3
Passenger Transport February 2020 Vol 78 No 4 - Cover4
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