Segregation on the Super Chief "Train of the Stars."

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Segregation on the Super Chief "Train of the Stars."
Posted by ChicaPeebles on Monday, April 04, 2011 12:06 PM

Hello.  I need some information about segregation policies on the Chicago-LA Super Chief "train of the stars" on the Santa Fe line. 

The Super Chief was a luxury train with all Pullman cars.  Were African Americans allowed to travel on the Super Chief during 1940-1945?  If so, were they segregated from white passengers?  If segregation existed, was it enforced in the dining car, the lounge, or also in sleeping areas?

If segregation existed on the Super Chief from 1940-45, was the policy lifted for African American entertainers?

I'm having some trouble finding answers to these questions, and would really appreciate your help.  Even if you can pinpoint a book or article that might answer these questions, I'd be grateful.

Thanks so much.

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, April 04, 2011 2:15 PM

As far as I recall, segreation was practiced only on the Texas Chief and not on any other AT&SF streamliner.   I am not sure of local  or secondary trains.

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, April 05, 2011 1:32 AM

Excerpt from Review of I.C.C. Policies and Practices (Hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Ninety-first Congress, first session, June 24 and 25, 1969)

Of particular note, racial discrimination in the seating of rail passengers resulted in the Santa Fe Railway paying a $5,000 forfeiture, the largest dollar amount ever paid under provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act for such a practice.  The Commission claims in the Santa Fe case were based on allegations that, on July 10, 11 and 12, 1966, the Santa Fe was assigning adjacent seats, on its "Super Chief" eastbound from Los Angeles, to passengers on a segregated basis according to their race, and accomplished this through a reservation code by which the train reservations of Negro persons were designated "Patron" or "P".  Such acts were in violation of a prior Commission cease and desist order issued under Section 3(1) of the Act and subjected the carrier to forfeiture claims under Section 16(8) of the Act.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, April 05, 2011 7:45 AM

This is of course news to me.   But at one time the Texas Chief actually had "Jim Crow" cars, blacks assigned to a specific car.   This was not true of the other streamliners.  Even in Amtrak days some dining car stewards would routinely  try to place blacks with blacks at tables, but that was never an official Amtrak policy.

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Posted by ChicaPeebles on Wednesday, April 06, 2011 1:17 PM

Thank you for your reply!

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Posted by ChicaPeebles on Wednesday, April 06, 2011 1:18 PM

Thank you for this information.  It is very helpful!

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 11, 2011 5:06 PM

Formal segregation was done by state statue. If a railroad passed thru a state that required separate seating (either partitions or separate "Jim Crow" cars), the railroad had to do it. AFAIK the Super Chief didn't pass thru any such states. It's doubtful the railroad could have refused to allow blacks to book passage on the train, but they may have had a policy of segregating passengers by color as noted (interesting stuff by the way) as far as seating. I can't see how they could have kept blacks from using the diner or lounge cars.

It's important to remember that cultural / societal segregation was just as strong as some legislated segregation. Cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and others were not formally segregated in that time, but blacks moving there from the South soon learned there were places they could go and places they couldn't go, like restaurants and even whole neighborhoods.

Remember too that the US military was segregated until after WW2.

Stix
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Posted by jrbernier on Friday, April 15, 2011 1:12 PM

wanswheel

Excerpt from Review of I.C.C. Policies and Practices (Hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Ninety-first Congress, first session, June 24 and 25, 1969)

Of particular note, racial discrimination in the seating of rail passengers resulted in the Santa Fe Railway paying a $5,000 forfeiture, the largest dollar amount ever paid under provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act for such a practice.  The Commission claims in the Santa Fe case were based on allegations that, on July 10, 11 and 12, 1966, the Santa Fe was assigning adjacent seats, on its "Super Chief" eastbound from Los Angeles, to passengers on a segregated basis according to their race, and accomplished this through a reservation code by which the train reservations of Negro persons were designated "Patron" or "P".  Such acts were in violation of a prior Commission cease and desist order issued under Section 3(1) of the Act and subjected the carrier to forfeiture claims under Section 16(8) of the Act.

  I have a real problem with accepting this as fact.  The Super Chief was an 'All Pullman' train - no coach cars.  Maybe they were talking about a combined El Capitan/Super Chief train?  Also, since the routing of the train was really not through the Deep South - this really makes no sense.  Got any more information about this incident?

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, April 15, 2011 6:31 PM

I think the Super Chief was so famous that a combined Super Chief/El Capitan probably was apt to be regarded simply as the Super Chief.  I can't find much else about this on the web.

Excerpt from Jet magazine, Feb. 22, 1968

Railway Pays $5,000 For Segregated Seating

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway paid the federal government $5,000 after an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) decision that the railway had discriminated against Negroes on its passenger trains. An ICC spokesman said this payment did not constitute a fine, but rather a "civil forfeiture." The railroad had a choice of paying it or fighting the matter in court. An ICC investigation found that in July, 1966, the Santa Fe had assigned passengers adjacent seats on its East-bound Super Chief on a "segregated basis according to their race."

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 18, 2011 4:56 PM

It wasn't all that long ago - maybe 10 years? - that a national restaurant chain got busted for discriminating against black patrons or refusing to serve them. I wouldn't be surprised if ATSF was doing some discriminating too. Chicago and Los Angeles were as segregated as any southern town in the fifties and sixties.

Stix
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Posted by aricat on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 6:17 AM

Segregation was not confined to the deep South. In 1954 Missouri required segregation and Kansas and New Mexico permitted it by local option. Topeka Kansas; a Super Chief stop, was the defendant in Brown vs The Board of Education. Tradition was also a problem.Discrimination and racism did not end with Brown vs The Board of Education as we all know. I have no doubt that discrimination in Super Chief bookings happened.

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Posted by Lark on Sunday, April 24, 2011 11:39 PM

...when the Super Chief ran as a separate train from the El Capitan -- it did run with five coaches or so, and a lunch-counter diner on the head-end this for summer crowds...  Believe the actress/star who protrayed Scarlett O'Hara's (Vivian Leigh) maid in the film "Gone with the Wind" was a frequent passenger on the Super Chief between Kansas City and Los Angeles...

 

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Posted by TheEastWind on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 5:28 PM

Wow!  The data you cite seem astonishing in that one wouldn't expect to encounter such a practice in public transportation at a comparatively late date. 

Of course, unequal hiring practices  [using similar "identifier" coding] are well documented in recent personnel litigation.  One is reminded, too, of nationwide discrimination practices routinely encountered in some modern businesses such as restaurant chains.

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