First, “jitney” — a vehicle providing inexpensive shared transportation over a set route. In this case, round-trip travel between Wilson and Goldsboro, some 25 miles south. Second, the jitney was integrated in 1920?
Now the story: an African-American passenger aboard the jitney “made himself obnoxious” — which could have been anything from refusing to yield to seat to whistling loudly to … anything, short of actual criminal behavior, which would have been dealt with swiftly. White people threatened to boycott the service if they had to share space with “colored” people any longer. The jitney proprietor quickly acceded to their wishes and barred Black passengers. An unnamed “worthy colored man” of Wilson requested that the Daily Times post a notice of the change to “save [African-Americans] from worry,” i.e. humiliation, inconvenience, and dangerous annoyance. He himself had been denied passage when he attempted to board for a return from Goldsboro. To reassure any who questioned his motives, perhaps, the anonymous man asserted that he was not complaining of the jitney company’s action, that, in fact, he thought it just under the circumstances.
[Note: Jim Crow, among other things, required a constant soft-shoe, relentless squaring, rapid-fire calculation, a perpetual mask. Consider this as you judge. — LYH]
The Negro Motorist Green Book (later titled The Negro Travelers’ Green Book and called the Green Book) was an annual guidebook for African-American travelers. New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green published the volume during the Jim Crow era, from 1936 to 1966, when hotels, restaurants and other businesses openly discriminated against black motorists. To counter the inconveniences and dangers and inconveniences they faced along the road, Green created a guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans.
Only a few of the many Wilson businesses catering to black clientele were listed in the Green Book. The 1941 edition of the guide is excerpted below.
Victor H. Green, The Negro Motorist Green-Book (1941).
Biltmore, East Washington Street — The 1941 Wilson city directory does not list a hotel on East Washington, nor am I aware of any hotel at any time on Washington.
The Wilson Biltmore, 539 East Nash Street — The 1941 Wilson city directory lists Libby McPhatter‘s cafe at 539 East Nash. However, per the nomination form for Wilson’s Central Business District Historic District, McPhatter’s cafe was at 541, in one of two buildings erected after the three-story Hotel Union burned in the late 1940s. [3/1/2019 — See first link for an update on the Wilson Biltmore.]
M. Jones, 1209 East Queen Street — The 1941 Wilson city directory does not list an M. Jones at 1209 East Queen Street, nor an M. Jones who is a taxi driver.
The 1948 Green Book lists the same three businesses in Wilson. Odd.