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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 People on the Move Americans Adopt the Auto Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction The Salisbury Depot What Happened to Plessy? A Way of Travel Railroad Conductor Pullman Porter Carrying Everything Into Town--and Out Locomotive Engineer & Fireman Railroaders behind the Scenes Promoting Good Roads Spencer, an Industrial Community What Happened to the Railroads?
9: Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927
Southern Railway station at Salisbury, North Carolina, 1920s

The Salisbury Depot

In the 1920s, a town’s railway station was a hub of activity. The depot was a city’s principal gateway, and station architecture often reflected that importance. In 1906, the Southern Railway hired noted architect Frank Milburn to design an elegant mission-style building in Salisbury.

The station reflected and reinforced prevailing social attitudes, as in the separate White and Colored entrances into the General Waiting Room. There was separation of the sexes and African Americans were not accorded the civility given to whites. The white women’s rest room was called a Ladies Parlor and there was a Smoking Room for white men. In contrast, black women weren’t considered “ladies:” their segregated restroom and toilet facilities were simply labeled Colored Women. Black men did not have access to a smoking room, and had to go outside the building to get the Colored Men’s Toilet.

Southern Railway station at Salisbury, North Carolina, 1920s

The Salisbury station, seen from trackside and from the street. Large canopies sheltered travelers from rain and the sun. The building also had offices for the stationmaster, the telegrapher, and other staff.

Southern Railway station at Salisbury, North Carolina, 1920s

Experiencing Jim Crow Travel

Charlotte Hawkins Brown attended Wellesley College and founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, a private school for African Americans in Sedalia, North Carolina. She was a leader of the “Interracial Movement” in the early 20th century. In 1920, on her way to Memphis, Tennessee, she was forcibly removed from a Pullman car by a group of white men. Brown later sued the Pullman Company. After ten years of litigation, a court awarded her only a few dollars.

Charlotte Hawkins Brown
Charlotte Hawkins Brown

Charlotte Hawkins Brown attended Wellesley College and founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, a private school for African Americans in Sedalia, North Carolina. She was a leader of the "Interracial Movement" in the early 20th century. In 1920, on her way to Memphis, Tennessee, she was forcibly removed from a Pullman car by a group of white men. Brown later sued the Pullman Company. After ten years of litigation, a court awarded her only a few dollars.

“For years I was regularly put out of Pullman berths and seats during all hours of the night..The most tragic of these Pullman escapades occurred in the fall of 1920. I had slept from Greensboro, North Carolina to within twenty miles of Anniston, Alabama, had dressed and undressed in the berth to avoid trouble and contact in the dressing room. “No sooner had I descended the ladder and occupied an empty seat than I was surrounded by twelve young white men who evidently [had] been told of my presence by a cowardly conductor. One of the men leaned down and said, “Madam, this is God’s country. Negroes can’t ride in coaches with white people. You will have to go back to the Jim Crow car.” —Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Excerpt from “Some Incidents in the Life and Career of Charlotte Hawkins Brown Growing out of Racial Situations, at the Request of Dr. Ralph Bunche,” 1936-7

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