This Day in History

March 10, 1903: African American Leaders Protest Streetcar Segregation

Time Periods: 1900
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity
Streetcar Segregation Act | Zinn Education Project

Text of the Streetcar Segregation Act, from the 1903 Acts of Arkansas. Source: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

On March 10, 1903, African American leaders assembled at the First Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas and demanded the halt of legislative efforts aimed at segregating streetcars.

The Streetcar Segregation Act, adopted by the Arkansas legislature in 1903, had assigned African-American and white passengers to “separate but equal” sections of streetcars.

Such protest meetings usually fell on deaf ears in the Arkansas General Assembly since no Black lawmakers remained in the legislature after post-Reconstruction disfranchisement.

To reach the streetcar company directly, they organized a boycott and “we walk” league.

This description is excerpted from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Read in full at Streetcar Segregation Act of 1903.

Related Stories

Read about streetcar protests in:

Richmond, Virginia in 1867

Charleston, South Carolina in 1867

Little Rock, Arkansas in 1903

Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson by Blair L. M. Kelley.

Transportation Protests: 1841 to 1966

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.