Elizabeth <I>Jennings</I> Graham

Elizabeth Jennings Graham

Birth
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 5 Jun 1901 (aged 74)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Memorial ID 88729004 View Source


In memory of Elizabeth Jennings Graham
Age: 76 years old



The Rosa Parks of Manhattan
By wildnewyork


Elizabeth Jennings was running late.

It was July 16, 1854, and Jennings, a 24-year-old teacher, was headed to the First Colored American Congregational Church on Sixth Street and the Bowery.

At Chatham and Pearl Streets, she boarded a streetcar. Like schools, hotels, and many jobs, streetcars operated on a color line and often refused black New Yorkers.

On this summer morning, the driver insisted Jennings get off and wait for a colored streetcar. She said no.

"I told him . . . I was a respectable person, born and raised in New York . . . and that he was a good for nothing impudent fellow for insulting decent persons while on their way to church," she later said, according to a 2005 New York Times article

Jennings was forced off. But the story was just beginning. Her prominent family hired a young lawyer (and future U.S. president) named Chester Arthur to take her case.

Jennings won and received $250 in damages. Still, it took several years of lawsuits for the city's streetcars to be fully desegregated

Elizabeth Jennings married and had a son; she ran a school for black children and died in 1901. She's buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, but her name lives on with this City Hall street sign.







For genealogy purposes.



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