“Jim Crow As I Saw It.” (1908)
Brilliant black clergyman, farmer, businessman, civil magistrate, author, and Oklahoma pioneer Samuel Robert Cassius, who was born a slave, wrote the following words in 1908.
From Sitting in the waiting room at Ardmore, (I mean the Jim Crow waiting room.) I drew my first impression of the Jim Crow law. The room set apart for Negroes, joins the men’s closet.
This closet is the most filthy place I ever saw, in even a village.
The sitting room is small and devoid of all regard for comfort. From the number of whisky bottles scattered around the room, it seems that is used by bums and toughs of both races as a place in which to drink boot-legged whiskey. I saw no place in which our wives, mothers and daughters could have a moment’s privacy. Then I went in the white peoples’ room where the ticket window is and after getting my ticket I made a mistake. Instead of opening the door into the Jim Crow room I opened the door of the white women’s toilet. The difference between it and the one for colored women, was about the same difference that we preachers place between heaven and hell.
I went back into the Jim Crow room and sat down amidst the lowest class of negro brutes. (If I must use the word, although I apologize to the brutes for (comparing) it with such foul mouthed creatures in human form and he foulest, and most degraded set of white brutes I ever saw. For about thirty minutes the very air stung with the filthy utterances that came from their lips. I said, “My God, is this the place that I must bring my family? Surely such treatment as this will only end to put murder in peaceable men’s hearts.”
Well the train rolled in at last, and I entered the Jim Crow car, bound for Guthrie. It was just half of an ordinary smoking car; in one end there was a toilet for both men and women. Ye Gods, think of it! Our wives, mothers and daughters compelled to take chances with men, in order to preserve their health and comfort. There were, in this car, two colored women who had to endure the smoke of two brutes, one black the other a dirty Turk, who did not have sense enough to go among the whites. The train porters pretended to believe he was a Negro. Bosh!
White men will risk their positions even on the railroads, in order to protect their women from even low down white men, which we Negroes are powerless or too much of a coward, I don’t know which, to even protect them from anybody…
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