THE CIVIL RIGHTS LAW: How It Works in Baltimore

Sun, Reported for the Baltimore. “THE CIVIL RIGHTS LAW: How It Works in Baltimore–Views of Prominent Colored Citizens-The Hotel Question in Other Cities, &c.” The Sun (1837-1988). March 4, 1875.

It has already been stated that the colored people of Baltimore take the civil rights bill [Civil Rights Act of 1875] very quietly, and there have been no evidences so far of any intended demonstrations on their part. Some of the hotel proprietors have been much exercised over the situation in which the law places them. The proprietor of the Mansion House, taking the initiative, publishes a card stating that the house is not kept as an inn or hotel, but as a private boarding-house, taking transient boarders at terms to be agreed upon…

The civil rights law expressly applied to inns, which are licensed houses required to give public entertainment. By charging their status to private boarding-houses it is expected to avoid the consequences of violating the federal law, which are severe. This leaves the question of license with the State and municipality.

The proprietors of the principal hotels of Baltimore met for consultation Tuesday night at the Carrollton, adjourning over until last night, when they again met at Barnum’s City Hotel…

In a conversation yesterday Bishop A.W. Wayman [Alexander Walker Wayman (1821–1895)], of the African M.E. Church, and Mr. Webb, cashier of the Baltimore branch of the late Freedmen’s Savings Bank, both intelligent men, experienced in the needs of their race, and both exerting considerable influence with them, gave their views freely in reference to the bill, coinciding with the expressions of The Sun on the subject yesterday, which recognized that in Baltimore the colored people generally take care of themselves and mind their own business. People who do this will always achieve for themselves independence and their proper social recognition, which no laws can legislate them into, whether framed by Mr. Sumner or tinkered by Mr. Butler.

Bishop Wayman said the colored people have numerous churches and schools of their own in Baltimore, and, said he, “they have their own graveyards too.” As to theatres and restaurants, the good bishop did not care about them at all, but he knows the colored people are too well accommodated with drinking places of their own, and they have very numerous public entertainments at scores of halls all over the city. Houses of public entertainment kept by respectable colored people are as plenty as the needs of the population demand, and no disposition is manifested to interfere with the white people by respectable colored people. Neither the bishop nor Mr. Webb expressed any gratification at the passage of the bill, nor did they state any objection to it. Both were of opinion that the colored people could not be elevated in the social scale by legal statute, but must depend on their personal worth and endeavor. They said that in a week, if the question was not agitated by the white people, it would be forgotten in Baltimore that there was a civil rights bill. If any overt acts are undertaken by colored people here they would be by strangers or designing politicians among the colored residents of the city.

Text copyright The Baltimore Sun courtesy the ProQuest Historical Newspaper Database via Enoch Pratt Free Library.