Wednesday, July 9, 2008


This photograph was taken in 1939, and shows a Black man drinking from a water can. The sign on the can says "Colored". The other signs indicate separate restrooms for "Colored" people. I grew up in the 1960's and I can not remember at that time any segregated facilities like the ones indicated in this picture, but maybe I was just not aware of them. I am not sure when the practice of separated water fountains and restrooms came to a complete close in this country. I do know, however, that it was on this day, July 9, in the year 1868 that the 14th amendment was passed, giving citizenship to African Americans. This was a big step forward on paper, but I guess progress in real life was a lot slower, as indicated in the photo above.


  1. I might be misremembering my history, but weren't they given 1/3 citizenship, as in one black man counted for 1/3 of a citizen? Something like that? Was that voting rights?

  2. I grew up in southern Louisiana in the '60's and I do remember white/colored restrooms, water fountains, schools and restaurants!

  3. I was in East Texas during WW II and can remember seeing the separate facilities for blacks and whites. I once asked my uncle why the bathrooms were different and all he would say was that that was the way it was supposed to be. Obviously, he was one of the many whites that would not accept the law making all of us equal until the day they died. Today, it is much better, but not anywhere it should be. Maybe the next genteration.......

  4. To Norkio:

    You must be thinking of the 3/5 Compromise during the Constitutional Convention. The Northern states were in debate with Southern states about how to count their population for purposes of representation and taxation. The South, of course, wanted to count their slaves as population so they'd get more representatives in Congress, but the North disagreed, thinking it would give the South inappropriate representation (after all, the slaves were not going to be truly represented -- they certainly weren't going to be allowed to vote). The South would have preferred not to count slaves as population for purposes of taxation, because then they'd have higher taxes. Ultimately they settled on a compromise: the South could count 3/5 of their slaves for representation and taxation.
    Some people interpret that as saying that an African American was being treated as only 3/5 of a man. Frankly, African Americans weren't treated as "men" at all -- only chattel. They had no rights and numerous restrictions.

    Once the 14th and 15th Amendments were passed, African Americans were to be treated as equal citizens and were supposed to be allowed to vote. As long as the Northern troops occupied the South and the Republican Party (of the Civil War era), was seeking votes, African American suffrage was protected. After the Compromise of 1877, a deal in which the Republicans bargained away Reconstruction in exchange for the presidency, African American rights were not protected, and they were forced into a second class status that often approximated slavery, especially with the way sharecropping often tied them to the land.

  5. The photographer of this picture grew up where in the town I was born in..,


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.