The Ladies Car depicts the journey of Ida B. Wells (NAACP co-founder), a resilient young school teacher fighting a lone battle for equality in the segregated south, once she is thrown off a Memphis train by the white mob. Ida uses her wits and tenacity to pursue justice and vengeance against the railroad giant all while struggling to please her family and friends, explore love and her life’s purpose.
What is The Ladies Car
The Ladies Car is a stage play, written by Tiana L. Ferrell (descendant of Ida B. Wells), which highlights Ida B. Wells’ victory with the Chesapeake, Ohio & Southwestern Railroad Company. In 1883, Ida purchased a first-class ticket and boarded a Memphis train headed to Woodstock, Tennessee. When requested by a train conductor to move from the first-class ladies car to the Colored car, which was also a smoking car, Ida refused and was forcibly removed from the train. As a result, she hired an attorney and filed suit in 1884 against the Chesapeake, Ohio & Southwestern Railroad Company. Ida’s attorney won the case in circuit court arguing the company didn’t offer “separate but equal” accommodations for Blacks and Whites. Ida was awarded $500 in damages. This case took place before the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision that established the “separate but equal” policy and legalized racial segregation, making Ida a pioneer in the fight of desegregation.
Why The Ladies Car is important
Ida is credited with founding the NAACP, and being instrumental in the civil rights and women suffrage movements, but her victory with the railroad company is widely unrecognized. More than 70 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, Ida stood her ground on a Memphis train. The Ladies Car will inspire and encourage our community to fight for their rights and freedoms as Ida did over a century ago.