When Jim Crow cost him workers, Reynolds fought back

“In 1913, tobacco worker William Darnell, attempting to build a house on a corner lot at Eleventh Street and Highland Avenue, was arrested because he was black and all the other residents on the street were white. The legal case that ensued [challenging Winston-Salem’s residential segregation law]  speaks to the behind-the-scenes power of R.J.R. to override Jim Crow when it served the company’s own interests….

“When the jury returned a verdict of guilty, [Darnell’s R.J.R-allied lawyers] immediately appealed….  Although the law was clearly on the side of prosecutors, Supreme Court Chief Justice Walter Clark overruled the decision…  in an effort to encourage African Americans to stay in Winston [rather than seeking jobs in the North]… citing the Irish exodus from Great Britain and Jewish emigration from Russia….”

— From “Katharine and R. J. Reynolds: Partners of Fortune in the Making of the New South” by Michele Gillespie (2012)

 

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