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June 25, 2020

Charlotte L. Brown vs. Omnibus Railroad Company – one woman’s lawsuit against a racist San Francisco street car company

Charlotte Brown’s name may not be in history books, but it deserves to be. Her bravery in pressing a lawsuit against a racist San Francisco street car company came while the Civil War was still being fought and mere months after black people has won the right to testify against whites in court. Read more and view the collection on our digital library below.

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Charlotte L. Brown vs. Omnibus Railroad Company – one woman’s lawsuit against a racist San Francisco street car company

On May 27th Elaine Elinson, former communications director of the ACLU of Northern California and co-author with Stan Yogi of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, wrote for the California Historical Society blog on women’s voices in California’s history. One of the woman highlighted was Charlotte Brown.

Charlotte’s name may not be in history books, but it deserves to be. Her bravery in pressing a lawsuit against a racist San Francisco street car company came while the Civil War was still being fought and mere months after black people has won the right to testify against whites in court.

In a statement after the killing of George Floyd and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, CHS’s Executive Director, Alicia Goehring, wrote about the need for the California Historical Society to highlight the struggle for justice against white supremacy in our state. Until now, the court testimony of Charlotte Brown was only accessible by visiting the research library. Legal documents from the case, Charlotte L. Brown vs. Omnibus Railroad Company, have now been digitized and are accessible on our digital library

To learn more about Charlotte Brown, read Elaine Elinson’s article here