Virginia museum begins honoring Black coachmen from the Jim Crow era

Colonial Williamsburg-Black Coachmen
Posted at 10:51 PM, Feb 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-26 22:51:02-05

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Black men who drove horse-drawn carriages through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia were both everywhere and invisible during the Jim Crow era. Their wooden coaches helped conjure up the late 18th Century for visitors including Queen Elizabeth, Sir Winston Churchill and then-Gen.

Dwight Eisenhower. And yet the men were forced to use separate bathrooms and water fountains, among the many other sanctioned indignities of segregation. Colonial Williamsburg has begun to honor the coachmen by naming a new carriage after one of them, with hopes that more will follow.

The first is for Benjamin Spraggins, who was sometimes said to be the most-photographed man in Williamsburg — although few captions bore his name.