Jim Crow Elevators

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An excerpt from Following the Color Line, by Ray Stannard Baker, published in 1908. The scene is Atlanta in 1906.

One of my early errands that morning led me into several of the great new office buildings, which bear testimony to the extraordinary progress of the city. And here I found one of the first evidences of the colour line for which I was looking. IN both buildings, I found a separate elevator for coloured people. In one building, signs were placed reading:


In another I copied this sign:


Curiously enough, as giving an interesting point of view, an intelligent Negro with whom I was talking a few days later asked me:

"Have you seen the elevator sign in the Century Building?"

I said I had.

"How would you like to be classed with 'freight, express and packages'?"

I found that no Negro ever went into an elevator devoted to white people, but that white people often rode in cars set apart for coloured people. In some cases the car for Negroes is operated by a white man, and in other cases, all the elevators in a building are operated by coloured men.

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Page created, February 14, 1997; last updated March 24, 2004