Joseph Guillaume and Streetcar Integration

Though Civil War was over, the practice of segregating New Orleans streetcars by race continued. This tour explores the actions of Joseph Guillaume and others in their efforts to integrate New Orleans streetcars during the Reconstruction Era.

The Star Car

Joseph Guillaume had had enough. The Civil War was over, Reconstruction was in full swing, yet the practice of segregation on the streetcars of New Orleans continued. Every third streetcar—although it was sometimes less often—was supposed to be…

Previous Protests of Streetcar Segregation

No doubt Guillaume had heard of Dr. R. I. Cromwell, who had forcibly been thrown from a non-star car by five or six men who kicked him and tore his clothes. Cromwell noted the inequity of the star system, writing that “every seventh car is a star…

Joseph Guillaume's Audacious Ride

On May 4, 1867, Guillaume acted. What happened next is open to some debate. According to the New Orleans Times, at 11:30 a.m. Guillaume hailed a “Whites Only” car number 148 on Love Street, now known as Rampart. When the driver refused to stop,…