A new story from Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure


From the seats this language might sound antiquated to you but it's the all that strikes me the jury sided with Elizabeth Jennings and awarded her two hundred fifty dollars the third Avenue railroad company was found liable and moved quickly to integrate their cars the other male companies were put on notice that they could be sued as well at what point is New York city's transportation system fully integrated well some historians say that that was the first major step after the civil war there was legislation that was passed that made it official the case received national attention in anti slavery papers the New York daily Tribune ran the headline all wholesome verdict well she celebrated for one yes she was for about twenty five years it was tremendously significant that's Leslie Alexander again you know in the nineteenth century the idea of women of any race being involved in an an outspoken way in political matters of any kind was extremely controversial so for her to take a stand in the way that she did and then allow her story and her name to be associated with this very public case was a huge deal after the court case Elizabeth Jennings ladder rather private life interning slowly faded from history she continued teaching and even open the city's first black kindergarten she also married Charles Graham they had a son but he died as a young child Jennings name briefly appeared in the newspapers again due to the political rights of Chester Alan Arthur that once wet behind the ears lawyer was elected vice president in eighteen eighty then he became president upon the assassination of James Garfield Elizabeth Jennings died on June fifth nineteen oh one I didn't expect to find much but there were at least a few short obituaries the New York times headline aged color teacher dad Mrs AEGEE Graham was prominent in ante bellum race troubles here the item takes note that her whole life was devoted to the improvement of her race why don't people know her name she was just not a person who was sort of self seeking or self interested she wasn't a person who was promoting herself or her story in that regard so you know I think that's part of it but I'll tell you honestly I think on a deeper level the primary reason we don't know Elizabeth Jennings story is that it doesn't fit with the narrative of the story that we like to tell about the north so in order to know about Elizabeth Jennings you have to know that slavery existed in the north you have to know that slavery existed in the north for almost as long as it did in the south you have to be willing to acknowledge that the legacy of slavery haunted the black population in the north for generations but we do have to to be willing to sort of you know pull back the curtains and have an honest conversation.

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