Negro expulsion from railway car, Philadelphia

Separate But Equal

Maryland State Archives
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Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: (410) 260-6400
Internet: mdsa.net
e-mail: archives@mdsa.net

Introduction

The belief in white supremacy led America to be a country who wanted to keep blacks and whites separate.  Even though blacks were freed from slavery, they were still fighting the system for equal rights.  Homer Plessy looked white even though by definition in this country he was black because of his African background.  He thought the separate but equal law was unconstitutional.  Therefore he set out to test the law and its forgiveness of his heritage.  He sat in the white section of a railroad car.  After being asked to move his court case became one of the most famous of its time. 

After the 1896 court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, the "separate but equal" clause became law.  African Americans were entitled to "equal" public places as whites, but they could be separate places.  As long as businesses, restaurants and schools were provided for African Americans, then establishment was in compliance with the law.  This law did not change America for the better and it helped provide grounds for legal segregation.  Any equality African Americans  received with the 15th Amendment was shot down with this one court ruling.  Justice John Marshall Harlan said, "Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens."  Unfortunately for the African Americans, other justices did not see America like Justice Harlan. 

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)

STANDARD 2: Massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity. 

Standard 2B: The student understands "scientific racism", race relations, and the struggle for equal rights. The student understands how Americans grappled with social, economic, and political issues. 

9-12: Analyze the role of new laws and the federal judiciary in instituting racial inequality and in disfranchising various racial groups. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision] 
9-12: Analyze the arguments and methods by which various minority groups sought to acquire equal rights and opportunities guaranteed in the nation's charter documents. [Identify issues and problems in the past] 

Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930) 

STANDARD 2: The changing role of the United States in world affairs through World War I. 

Standard 2C: The student understands the impact at home and abroad of the United States involvement in World War I

9-12: Analyze the impact of public opinion and government policies on constitutional interpretation and civil liberties. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision] 

STANDARD 3: How the United States changed from the end of World War I to the eve of the Great Depression.

Standard 3A: The student understands social tensions and their consequences in the postwar era

7-12: Examine rising racial tensions, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, and the emergence of Garveyism. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: A newspaper illustration entitled, "Negro expulsion from railway car, Philadelphia"
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: September 27, 1856 in Illustrated London News
    SOURCE: African-American Perspectives: The Progress of a People
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  2. DESCRIPTION: The black laws / speech of Hon. B.W. Arnett of Greene County, and Hon. J.A. Brown of Cuyahoga County, in the Ohio House of Representatives, March 10, 1886.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    Columbus, Ohio : Ohio State Journal, 1886
    EXCERPT:
     Members [of the Ohio House of Representatives] will be astonished when I tell them that I have traveled in this free country for twenty hours without anything to eat; not because I had no money to pay for it, but because I was colored. Other passengers of a lighter hue had breakfast, dinner and supper. In traveling we are thrown in "jim crow" cars, denied the privilege of buying a berth in the sleeping coach. This monster caste stands at the doors of the theatres and skating rinks, locks the doors of the pews in our fashionable churches, closes the mouths of some of the ministers in their pulpits which prevents the man of color from breaking the bread of life to his fellowmen.
    This foe of my race stands at the school house door and separates the children, by reason of color, and denies to those who have a visible admixture of African blood in them the blessings of a graded school and equal privileges...We call upon all friends of Equal Rights to assist us in this struggle to secure the blessings of untrammeled liberty for ourselves and prosperity.
    COPYRIGHT: Restriction Statement
    SOURCE: African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P.Murray Collection, 1818-1907
    REPOSITORY

  3. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, [Poster] Learn to swim campaign Classes for all ages forming in all pools 
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: New York : New York City W.P.A. Art Project, [between 1936 and 1940]
    NOTES: Poster for New York Department of Parks announcing classes forming for swimming lessons, showing African Americans on one side and white children on the other
    REPRODUCTIONS: How To Order Copies of This Item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  4. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Drinking fountain on county courthouse lawn, Halifax, North Carolina
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1938 Apr
    REPRODUCTIONS: How To Order Copies of This Item
    SOURCE: Part of Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC

  5. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Negro going in colored entrance of movie house on Saturday afternoon, Belzoni, Mississippi Delta, Mississippi
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1939 Oct.?
    REPRODUCTIONS: How To Order Copies of This Item
    SOURCE: Part of Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC

  6. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore, Maryland. A drinking fountain
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1943 May
    REPRODUCTIONS: How To Order Copies of This Item
    SOURCE: Part of Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC

  7. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, [Coca-Cola machine labeled "White customers only!"]
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: [between 1943 and ca. 1960]
    REPRODUCTIONS: How To Order Copies of This Item
    SOURCE: Forms part of: Visual Materials from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Records
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC

  8. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, [Sign reading "waiting room for colored only, by order Police Dept."]
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: [between 1943 and ca. 1960]
    REPRODUCTIONS: How To Order Copies of This Item
    SOURCE: Forms part of: Visual Materials from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Records
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC

  9. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, [Segregated drinking fountains labeled "white" and "colored" in the Dougherty County Courthouse, Albany, Georgia]
    ALTERNATE IMAGE: Exhibited: American Treasures of the Library of Congress
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: [between 1962 and 1964]
    REPRODUCTIONS
    : How To Order Copies of This Item
    COPYRIGHT: Publication may be restricted. For information see "Danny Lyon" (http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/089_lyon.html)
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

See: Photographs of Signs Enforcing Racial Discrimination: Documentation by Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Photographers

See also

Jim Crow in Maryland
From Segregation to Integration: The Donald Murray Case, 1935-1937

Additional Media Resources

African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Donald A. P. Murray Collection 1818-1907

Additional Instructional Resources

Resources on Incorporating Primary Sources and Historic Sites in Classroom Instruction

African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907. From Library of Congress Learning Page

Civil Rights HyperStudio Magazine

Separate But Equal" video

        "14th Amendment—Equal Protection, Due Process, Citizenship"

Lesson Plan: Equality and Civil Rights

If You Were a Supreme Court Justice . . .

The Civil Rights Movement - A Lesson Plan

Secondary Sources

Bishop, David W. "Plessy V. Ferguson: A Reinterpretation" The Journal of Negro History (Apr., 1977): 125-133.
Ficker, Douglas J. "From Roberts to Plessy: Educational Segregation and the 'Separate but Equal' Doctrine" The Journal of Negro History (Autumn, 1999): 301-314.
Rabinowitz, Howard N. "From Exclusion to Segregation: Southern Race Relations, 1865-1890" The Journal of American History (Sep. 1976): 325-350.

Password Access to Journal Articles

Some journal articles linked to this site require password access due to copyright and other restrictions. Teachers participating in the Teaching American History in Maryland program with a valid University of Maryland (UMBC) Library card can access these materials through ResearchPort.

Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

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© Copyright, Maryland State Archives, June 23, 2004