From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Streetcar Demonstrations (Louisville, KY) [R. Fox v. The Central Passenger Railroad Company]

The streetcar companies in Louisville, KY had discriminating policies toward African Americans,  and in 1870 the discrimination led to a protest movement.

Horace Pearce and the brothers Robert and Samuel Fox boarded a Central Passenger streetcar at Tenth and Walnut Streets, deposited their fares,  and sat down. They were told to leave, but they refused. Other streetcar drivers were called to the scene, and the Fox brothers and Pearce were kicked and knocked about, then thrown off the streetcar.

Outside, a crowd of African Americans hurled mud clods and rocks at the car and encouraged the men to reboard because they had a federal right to ride the streetcars. When the police arrived, the three men were taken off the car, put in jail, and charged with disorderly conduct. Reverend H. J. Young posted their bail.

At their hearing, no African Americans were  allowed to testify, and each of the three men was fined $5. A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court: R. Fox v. The Central Passenger Railroad Company. At that trial, the jury decided in favor of the three men, and they were each awarded $15 for damages.

In spite of the decision, as more African Americans tried to board the streetcars, they were thrown off, leading to more protests and near riots. Louisville Mayor John G. Baxter called a meeting, and it was decided by the streetcar companies that all persons would be allowed to ride any of the routes.

For more see M. M. Noris, "An early instance of nonviolence: the Louisville demonstrations of 1870-1871," The Journal of Southern History, vol. 32, issue 4, (Nov., 1966), pp. 487-504.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Journal of southern history (periodical)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry: Fox, Robert and Samuel

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“Streetcar Demonstrations (Louisville, KY) [R. Fox v. The Central Passenger Railroad Company],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-04-05 16:31:15