This Day in History

April 24, 1867: Richmond Streetcar Protest

Time Periods: 1865
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Democracy & Citizenship

On April 24, 1867, African Americans in Richmond, Virginia organized Reconstruction era protests against the privately operated company that refused to allow them to ride its horse-drawn streetcars. Christopher Jones had tried to board a streetcar and was arrested for disturbing the peace after a large crowd assembled to support his insistence that, having bought a ticket, he was entitled to ride the streetcar.

African Americans in the crowd reportedly shouted, “Let us have our rights,” and “We will teach these d—d rebels how to treat us.”

Jones was indicted for “feloniously and maliciously” conspiring to “incite the Colored population of the said City and State to make insurrection by acts of violence and war against the white population.”

Indictment of Christopher Jones in the Richmond City Hustings Court. Source: Library of Virginia.

On May 18 the court issued a “nolle prosequi,” or an order not to prosecute his case.

This description is from Remaking Virginia: Transformation Through Emancipation.

Learn more in Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson.

Read more stories in the online collection, Transportation Protests: 1841 to 1992 and find resources below to teach about the Reconstruction era.

Learn more in the Zinn Education Project national report, “Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction,” and find teaching resources on Reconstruction below.