In The First-Class Car

The plight of three African American passengers on a Georgia railcar is recounted in this reprint from the Macon Telegraph.



From the Macon Telegraph, Aug. 26.

"Three coons in a first-class car. Bring out the brass band."

This or a similar message was received by telegraph by parties at Geneva yesterday morning. It meant that three negro men had boarded the train at Opelika and had taken possession of seats in the first-class car. Quite a number of ladies got on at Columbus, and finding the negroes in the car took seats together at one end, leaving as much room to the off-color trio as possible. The white male passengers were decidedly averse to the proceeding, but for some reason did not interfere further than to send a telegram to Geneva.

When the train stopped at that point for dinner about a dozen stout, able-bodied Talbot County men went into the car and looked around for the trespassers. At one end of the car sat three stylishly dressed men, and these were pointed out as the offenders. They were of such light color that the Geneva party hesitated before advancing upon them, but on being assured by the passengers that they belonged in the Jim Crow car the leader of the party fastened his hand in the collar of the one nearest to him and in no uncertain tones told him to "git." The colored party lost no time in complying with the request. The Geneva party returned to the others and they followed the first one. When they reached the second-class car the trio were informed that if they left that car until it arrived in Macon they would suffer. The Geneva party then retired, leaving the trio under the impression that they were in the ladies' car waiting for them. There was no further use for the Genevaites, as the trio seemed satisfied to remain where they were.

Arriving in Macon they were driven in a hack to a house on Second-street. It seems that one of the party is named Brown, and he with his two friends came over to Macon from Tuskegee, Ala., to attend a marriage in high colored society this morning. But for this ripple the journey to the wedding would have been a pleasant one, and the prospective groom would not have been brought into notoriety.

About this Document

  • Source: The New York Times
  • Date: September 10, 1886