Southern Illinois University Carbondale Daily Egyptian Diversity News Archive (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
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Item IDegyptian 1944 0114 vol 25 #13.tif
DescriptionIssue of citizenship for African-Americans
Original Publication SourceDaily Egyptian
Date1944 January 14
Digital File Format.TIF (Tagged Image Format)
Digital File PublisherSpecial Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Rights StatementAll copyrights held by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email:
CollectionDaily Egyptian Diversity News Archive (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)


There is a vast difference between the English idea and the American idea of the meaning of the phrase "American Citizen", and that difference is being brought out more and more each day. In England when one speaks of an American Citizen, he means any citizen from the United States of America; the Americans speak of an American citizen as a member of the white race or, as a matter of fact, a member from any race except the Negro race.
As far as the Negro is concerned. England practices the democratic principles that America preaches about. For example, let us look at the practices in theaters, cafes. and hotels toward the American Negroes in England, and the practices in the same places of the American Negro at home here in the United States. Many American soldiers are now in England and when I say American soldiers. I mean not only the white soldiers, but all the other soldiers from other races including soldiers of the Negro race as well. After spending the required time in camp for a few weeks, the boys are given passes if they want them. Most of them leave camp and go to the theaters. There, the Negro, because he, too, is an American Citizen, is permitted to enter the theaters, and occupy any seat on the first floor. Nothing is said about it. If he takes a seat on the second floor nothing is said about it. Any place he wants to sit is perfectly legitimate—because the English people believe in treating all people alike. They don't permit the Negro to sit in any section he chooses in order to refrain from insulting him or telling him that because his skin is black he can not sit there. On the contrary, they let him keep his seat because they treat all Americans alike. But what do we find in America?
A Negro, be he soldier or civilian, goes to the theater, purchases a ticket and ATTEMPTS to take
a seat on the main floor. Immediately the usher or manager goes to him and this is the way the
conversation will go. Naturally the manager begins by saying:
"I'm sorry, sir. but you'll have
to take a seat in the balcony."
"I said." repeats the manager.
"You'll have to take a seat in the
"But, why? This seat is 0. K
It suits me. Thanks for offering"
your assistance, though." ,
"I'm afraid you don't under-
stand. You will HAVE to sit in
the balcony in the last. section behind that rail. You MUST sit there if you want to remain in this theater."
"But why must I sit there? This seat isn't reserved for any particular person, and if it isn't I'll take the seat in front of this one, that is unless it IS reserved for some one in particular."
The manager becomes very irritated at this and stops "beating around the bush, "
"What I have been trying to tell you is this; We don't allow Negroes to sit any other place in this theater except in she balcony behind the last rail. That section is reserved for Negroes alone. We do not allow any members of any other race to sit there; however. they may sit any place else, but Negroes only occupy that section."
"Why do you make such a ruling?" "The manager, to be sure, knows all the answers.
"We have to make that ruling because it we didn't, and allowed you Negroes to sit any place you wanted to, all our other show-goers would object. It would put us out of business. NONE of them would approve of such an act." Incidentally, the "THEM" and
"SHOW-GOERS" he speaks of are the groups composed of the citizen (other than Negro—not colored, mind you, that would then include Chinese. etc.) of the city and the college students and teachers. Nine cases out of ten, if a white student or any other citizen is seated next to the Negro he will inform the manager that he does not mind the Negro's presence. That, however, is completely ignored by the manager and he forces the Negro to take a seat in the so-called "reserved section" which is truly a segregated section, or he refunds his money.
This incident is not any imaginary one, but a true one. In the Civil Rights Bill of Illinois such
action is forbidden.
The segregation of Negroes is against the law. in spite of the fact that the same augmentations are provided. But that is what we might call a "dark cloud" and as the saying goes—"every
cloud has a silver lining" so goes
the saving, "Every problem has
at least one solution."
True, it is that conditions are better than what they once were, for there was a time when Negroes were not allowed in theater's operated by a white proprietor. From that time to the present, a great deal of progress has been made. but there is still room
for more.
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