Signs of segregation disappeared quickly (unless they didn’t)

“Segregation of public facilities — including water fountains and restrooms — was officially outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson….

“In Raleigh, Wilmington and other Southern cities, businesses seem to have complied grudgingly but promptly…. In smaller towns and rural areas, however, Jim Crow customs lingered longer.

“Local history librarian Beverly Tetterton remembers seeing fading ‘White’ and ‘Colored’ signs on the restrooms of shuttered gas stations when she first came to town in the 1970s.

“Elliott Erwin of Magnum Photos took a celebrated black-and-white photo of a segregated water fountain in North Carolina in 1950.”

— From “When did segregated water fountains end?” by Ben Steelman in the Wilmington StarNews (June 5, 2009)

 

“In one of his anecdotal books, ‘Only in America,’ [Harry] Golden said that he once persuaded a North Carolina department store owner to put an ‘Out of Order’ sign over his ‘white’ drinking fountain. Little by little, whites began drinking out of the ‘colored’ fountain, and by the end of the third week ‘everybody was drinking the “segregated” water.’ ”

— From “Harry Golden, an editor and humorist, 79, dead” in the New York Times (Oct. 3, 1981)

 

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