THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL.
Two Officials from Mississippi are Refused Admission to a Sleeping Car, and intend Bringing Suit to Vindicate their Rights.
From the Louisville Commercial, April 28.
In the Commercial yesterday morning mention was made of the fact that two colored officials from the State of Mississippi had been refused admission to a sleeping car on the Louisville, Nashville and Great Southern Railroad. They were Hon. William Gray, representing the Twenty-ninth Senatorial District in the State Senate and Brigadier-general of the State militia, and Major J. Allen Ross, Adjutant on the Governor’s staff. They had been traveling North on special business connected with State affairs, and were on their return home.
They purchased first-class tickets at the railroad office, corner of Fourth and Main, and went to the depot Monday night to take the night express for Memphis, being accompanied by several friends whom they had been visiting in the city. Shortly before the train left they started to enter a first-class car, but were refused admission and abruptly ordered to go into the forward car. They asked if the other car was a ladies’ car, to which they received the reply, “No; but you can’t go in there.”
Major Ross had, previously to this, noticed a number of men standing on the platform, who appeared to be closely watching the General and himself. The crowd had increased as they approached the car, and was somewhat demonstrative, and thinking that if they persisted in demanding their rights that violence would be used, he suggested to Mr. Gray that it would be better for them to leave, as he saw very plainly that it was the determination to keep them out of the cars.
They had urgent business that demanded their presence in Memphis last evening, and would have gone on, despite the indignity offered, but the health of Major Ross was such that he felt as if he could not sit up all night and stand the fatigue of the ride, and so they left the depot and went back to the house of their friend, where they had been stopping.
They state that at the time they left the house on Tenth street to go to the depot a policeman was standing on the pavement, but left as soon as they did, and was a prominent feature in the crowd at the depot.
General Gray and Major Ross have traveled a good deal both North and South, and state that they have never met with such indignity before, except in 1874, when Mr. Gray had occasion to pass through Louisville, on his way to Washington. They are both educated and highly respectable men, and always conduct themselves in a gentlemanly manner.
Mr. Gray has represented his district, which is one of the wealthiest in the State, in the Senate for six years. He has taken a prominent part in the affairs of Mississippi, and has won for himself the respect of all unprejudiced minds. For several years he has held the position of Brigadier-general in the State militia.
Major Ross formerly represented Washington County in the Legislature, and is at present practicing law at Greenville. He was in the army during the war and lost an arm.
They have suffered considerable loss by being delayed here, and announce their intention of bringing suit against the company, under the civil rights law, in the United States Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.