Sunday, May 20, 2012

"White Ladies Only" Restroom

"White Ladies Only" restroom (1940)

"White Ladies Only" Restroom

Location: This particular "white ladies only" restroom was located at the bus station in Durham, North Carolina, USA. But racially segregated ladies rooms existed throughout the southern United States, and in some northern locations as well.

Opened: Trend towards "officially" race segregated public facilities such as restrooms began in 1876 with the Jim Crow laws. These laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities within the former confederate states.

Closed: Jim Crow laws were finally overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Lexington County, South Carolina

Make no mistake: the "white ladies only" restroom is NOT being honored as a lost womyn's space. But it is important to remember the shameful ways that women's space has been exploited and defiled by both institutionalized and "informal" racism. (See here for photos of other race segregated public facilities from the Jim Crow era.) Even though they did not serve on the state legislatures that passed these laws, generations of white women do bear responsibility for giving, at minimum, their tacit approval to these arrangements and for supporting the white men who did pass and enforce these laws, often with considerable bloodshed. Lest we forget....

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