A National Figure

Lives on the Railroad: Experiencing Jim Crow Travel

Charlotte Hawkins Brown

Dr. Brown's experience with segregated railway cars in the 1920s is featured in the National Museum of American History's permanent exhibit "America on the Move". A period description of her many activities and achievements follows:

Mrs. Brown has been especially active in North Carolina and has received national recognition. As president of the Federation of Women's Clubs of North Carolina, she has been able to lead the women in a concerted drive for the establishment of an Industrial Home for delinquent Negro girls. This plant, now valued at more than $25,000, has been one of the pieces of work in North Carolina in which white and Negro women have joined heartily. Mrs. T. W. Bickett, widow of the late ex-Governor Bickett, has been assiduous in her efforts to maintain it. The home receives state appropriation and present conditions point to the state's taking over the entire effort.

Mrs. Brown's services are frequently in demand. She has lectured in more than thirty-five States of the Union and has been appointed the regular lecturer on interracial subjects at Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley Colleges. She was chosen speaker for the New England groups of Congregational churches and conferences and was the speaker for the colored women of the South at the Memphis meeting, where white and colored women joined forces to make the colored women unafraid in the South.

Mrs. Brown is a vice-president of the National Association of Colored Women, a member of the Southern Interracial Commission, the Interracial Committee of the Federal Council of Churches, the advisory board of the Southern Division of the Urban League, and of the executive board of the National Association of Teachers of Colored Schools. She was one of the seven educators honored by the Board of Education of North Carolina in its "Hall of Fame" at the Sesqui-Centennial in Philadelphia, in 1926. In 1928, she was elected a member of the Twentieth Century Club of Boston. This club includes in its membership only persons who have achieved distinction in religion, education, art, or science. Both Livingstone College and the North Carolina College for Negroes have conferred the Master's Degree on Mrs. Brown in recognition of her educational work. In 1930, she was elected as one of the one hundred and fifty delegates to represent the Council of Congregational Churches in America at the conference at Bournemouth, England.


From: Daniel, Sadie Iola. Women Builders. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, Inc., 1931.