IIII-"I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days" - Ray Sprigle - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

IIII-"I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days" - Ray Sprigle - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Going South by Jim Crow Car

by: Ray Sprigle | publication date: August 11, 1948 | Publication: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | pages: 1

 I quit being white, and free, and an American citizen when I climbed aboard that Jim Crow coach in Washington Union station. From then on, until I came up out of the South four weeks later, I was black, and in bondage not quite slavery but not quite freedom, either. My rights of citizenship ran only as far as the nearest white man said they did. Not that that Jim Crow coach was particularly bad-when regarded solely as a railroad coach. In fact, it was surprisingly good. The reclining seats were comfortable. The wash room was really luxurious compared with those in some of the coaches I ride around home. Seats were numbered and reserved. There was no crowding. But-even excellent accommodations are not going to reconcile intelligent, cultured Negroes to Jim Crow. My companion and I were having a little difficulty in finding the black section of the train. He encountered the daughter of an old friend of his, a handsomely-dressed, quite beautiful Negro girl, and asked where the Jim Crow coaches were. "There’s the things we’ll ride in," she said with a contemptuous wave toward the two pieces of Jim Crow rolling stock. It developed that she was a school teacher from Harlem on her way home to visit her aged mother. (Weeks later we passed through the sunbaked, dusty, sprawling little town where the mother lived. There was a vast difference between that unkempt town and the fashionable, cultured-appearing girl from Harlem with upswept hair-do and latest doo-dads in the way of costume.)  

Sprigle's first experience under cover as an African American is the Jim Crow bus ride down south.

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