Sarah Mayrant Fossett is remembered for trying to get on a Cincinnati streetcar in 1860, only to be denied the right to board. The conductor not only denied her the right to ride the streetcar, but he also dragged her for more than a block.
Little did the conductor know that the woman he had just assaulted was the wife of a highly-regarded man in town, who had helped lead many blacks to freedom on the Underground Railroad and she was also the hairdresser to the rich and famous in the Queen City. It didn’t take long for numerous of abolitionist citywide to come to Fossett’s defense and numerous of white women who were unwilling to lose their hairdresser did as well.
Fossett sued the streetcar company – and won. A decision that would soon make it possible for black women to ride streetcars in Cincinnati. Even though black women were allowed to ride the streetcars, black men were not, they were viewed as the stronger sex and more capable of walking.