Fight on Class Law

The Anti-Separate Coach Committee of Kentucky begins to lobby against the Jim Crow laws recently passed by the state legislature.



Contest Begun in the Courts to Overthrow the Separate Coach Law Passed by the Legislature - Better Element of the Whites Said to Be Aiding the Colored People with Money and Moral Support - Committeeman Lane Explains the Position of the Negroes.

FRANKFORT, Ky., Oct. 30. - [Special.] - Proceedings looking to the overthrow of the separate coach law, which is now in operation in this State, have begun in the courts. The colored people throughout the State are set against the law and propose to fight it to the end. When the bill was before the legislature they fought it with all their might, but public sentiment at the time was so strong for the bill that the Legislature passed it by a large majority.

The negroes have established headquarters in this city to fight the law. A committee which is in charge is watching the matter closely and is hopeful of the result. Committeeman Edward Lane, one of the most intelligent negroes in the South, was seen. He said:

"Yes, I am a member of the Anti-Separate Coach committee that has charge of the management of the flight against the Jim Crow law in this State and have been ever since the first steps were taken by the colored people to ask Gov. John Young Brown not to recommend such a law to the Legislature. The colored people have and a great many of the whites in this State have responded to the call for money to help test the law in the courts. We are too proud of our grand old Commonwealth of Kentucky to have the hands of progress shoved back by adopting a law that will tend to bring about hatred between the two races of people in the State, for they have always been on the best of terms, and the passing of such a law is only the first step to other bad legislation that will be for the sole purpose of degrading the most progressive race of colored people that lives in any Southern State today.

"We never have any race riots. An average colored man in Kentucky is 25 per cent above the average colored man in any other Southern State. We have 52,000 head of stock, 8,000 town lots and many of us have from $5000 to $25,000 to our credit in the bank and are engaged in every branch of business that our white brother is and we do not deserve such treatment as has been accorded us by the Legislature.

Not Seeking Social Equality.

"The colored man does not seek social equality with the whites, but does ask for fair play and all the rights that the organic laws of the State give him. If the good people of this State could have a fair chance to express their opinion in the way of voting such a law out it would never reach the courts to be tested. The cause that first prompted the passage of the law was that a drunken colored man had an altercation with a drunken white man and shot at him. A stray ball struck a white woman. Then came the cry, 'Separate coach!' Separate coach ! and now the whole race of colored people must be crammed into one end of a smoking car on the railroads of this State for the actions of one drunken colored man.

"The most shameful feature of the law is that if you are a lady or a gentleman of color you cannot ride in the car with the white people, but if you are serving in the capacity of a servant, or if you are a prisoner, you can then ride with the white people. We are now prepared to fight this law through all of the courts. We have had councils with some of the leading legal talent in the State and outside, and everything thus far has indicated to us that we have a good case.

Encouragement from Whites.

"Our committee has received quite an umber of encouraging letters form the leading white people all over the State with private contributions and wishing us success. Our lawyers have prepared the case and will at the proper time begin the test. We have assumed nothing but honorable grounds, believing that we will win. We have quite a number of white friends, who have done much work in helping our people in different counties to raise money, and our committee will never forget the many kind favors in this fight to proclaim our rights as laid down in the Constitution of the United States as well as that of Kentucky.

"The white people in business in the State who do not want the law, the masses of the whites have never asked for such a law, the railroads do not and cannot afford to have it, and some have refused to comply with it. Now the colored people after many years of riding in the same coaches with the white people surely have not become so obnoxious that their presence in the same coach makes it unfit for the white people.

"We are not trying to build up the State since the old Constitution with the slave clause has been wiped out of existence, so we will do our best to wipe out this blot and strive to keep the State where it ought to be, at the head of its sister Southern States with equal rights to all and exclusive right to none, that its records may show no jim-crow cars for its citizens, be they white or colored, and not have such class legislation and discrimination.

"Yes, our committee has seen Col. Robert G. Ingersoll in reference to this case and we feel much encouraged with his talk on the matter. We will have good legal talent all along the line. We have raised several thousand dollars and there is more to come. We believe the newspapers in the State are with us."

The other members are as hopeful as Mr. Lane, and express the same opinion. The securing of the legal assistance of Col. Ingersoll is a good point for the negroes.

About this Document

  • Source: Chicago Daily Tribune
  • Published: Chicago
  • Date: October 30, 1893