Elizabeth Jennings Graham set a new milestone for the civil rights movement on a typical Sunday morning, whether she planned it that way or not. In that July of 1854, the 24-year old school teacher was late for church. She was on her way to the First Colored Congregational Church on Sixth Street and Second Avenue to perform her duties as an organist (Biographicon.com). Accompanied by her friend Sarah Adams, Graham flagged down a carriage to reach her destination as quickly as possible. It did not read "Negro Persons Allowed in This Car," but she had no time to waste and didn’t particularly care either. As soon as they boarded the streetcar, the conductor told them to get off and wait for the next streetcar designated for Negroes, for this streetcar was for whites only. The women defended their ground and took a seat anyways, but the conductor said if any ...
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... what she did is just as important as what Rosa Parks did. Perhaps her story is just more obscure and needs to be brought up more often. Even though slavery is long gone and we now have a black President, racism still exists. However, Graham’s contributions made people think twice about what they were doing and maybe changed the minds of some. People like Graham are admirable and even though she may not have made it to the history books, she will never be forgotten.
African or American? Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784-1861., Alexander, Leslie M., 2008
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