hidden figures: charlotte l. brown refused to give up her seat in 1863, leading to major civil rights campaign

February 1, 2017
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It is often said Rosa Parks sat so we could stand. Well it seems there was a woman before Mrs. Parks to take a similar approach to civil rights. At 8PM on April 17, 1863, Charlotte Brown took a seat on a horse-drawn streetcar one block from her home on Filbert Street in San Francisco. She was on her way to see her doctor. The streetcar was owned by the Omnibus Railroad Company. When the streetcar conductor approached her and asked her to leave, Brown said she “had a right to ride” and had no intention of leaving the car but the conductor physically forced her off the car. In Charlotte Brown v. Omnibus Railroad Company the jury awarded Brown $500 and in the criminal trial, the jury ruled that the conductor committed assault against Brown. This amazing activist was one of the first Black women to testify against whites in court and set the stage for more lawsuits and protests of the same kind to become common in the civil rights era. Join us in celebration of this Charlotte L. Brown and her contributions!

By T. McLendon, AFROPUNK Contributor