Sarah Mayrant Fossett (1826-1906)

Sarah Mayrant Fossett (1826-1906) tried to get on a Cincinnati streetcar in 1860 but the conductor would not let her aboard. After he dragged her for more than a block, she sued the streetcar company and won. Little did the conductor know that Fossett was both married to a conductor for the Underground Railroad and also the hairdresser to the rich and famous in the Queen City. Abolitionists citywide came to Fossett’s defense, and so did her white female clients. Her case made it possible for African-American women to ride streetcars in Cincinnati, though African-American men still denied the ability to do so. Black men were viewed as the stronger sex and thus, more capable of walking.

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