The Woman Who Refused to Leave a White-Only Streetcar


Graham, a school teacher, was running late for the Sunday service at Abyssinian Baptist Church when she boarded a white-only streetcar on July 16, 1854. The driver of the streetcar kicked her off with force at the corner of what was then Pearl Street and Chatham Street. She later published a letter in the New York Tribune about her ordeal, creating an uproar among Black New Yorkers and winning support from abolitionist Frederick Douglass to demand the end of segregation on streetcars. Graham`s father filed a lawsuit on her behalf and she was successfuly represented by attorney and future U.S. president Chester A. Arthur, winning $225 (around $7,000 today) in damages. The lawsuit helped lead to the full desegregation of streetcars and of the city`s public transit almost a decade later

Abolished, 1827
Became, July 16, 1854
Awarded, Feb, 1855
Abolished, 1873