Lee  Gaskins'  AT THE FAIR  The 1904 St. Louis World's   Fair 
                   Web  Design and Art/Illustration   copyrighted  2008
Racism  is  a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement,usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others. It  can  also  be a  policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. Many   see the most obvious definition; a  hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

The Civil Rights Act of 1875, introduced by Charles Sumner and Benjamin F. Butler, stipulated a guarantee that everyone, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, was entitled to the same treatment in public accommodations, such as inns, public transportation, theaters, and other places of recreation. This Act had little impact.

African American and Native American groups protested their exclusion from the 1893 Chicago fair. Frederick Douglas spoke at the fair to address the issue of racism.

As the 1904 World's Fair  was only  forty year after the  Civil War, racism  was prevalent  in the United States. The black community had little leverage and the  Jim Crow laws did not help the problems.

The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated  racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages.

Fair President, David  R.  Francis  wanted the Fair  to  be enjoyed  by people  of  all  races. The problem  with  that  was  not  all  venders,  employees, and officials  had  the  same agenda.

Many prominent African-American leaders had called for a boycott of the games to protest racial segregation of the events in St. Louis. An integrated audience was not allowed at either the Olympics or the World's Fair as the organizers had constructed segregated Jim Crow facilities for their spectators.  Yet, many came and enjoyed the Fair. One bold athlete- George Poage  (see photo at bottom of page), chose to compete and became the first African-American to medal in the Games by winning the bronze in both the 220-yard and 440-yard hurdles.

Though the 1904 Olympics were dominated by  a mostly  `white,'  contingency, Frank Pierce became  the first American Indian Olympian, running in the marathon and setting the stage for Jim Thorpe to dominate the 1912 games. Two  Zulus, working the Fair as part of a big Boer War exhibit,  placed  fifth and 12th in the marathon.

All was not  negative, one of the most popular Pike  attractions  was Dr. William Key's million  dollar  educated  horse- Beautiful Jim Key.       The attraction  make  more than four  times its cost. It  was  said  that 4 million people met Dr. Key and his famous  horse.   Annie Turnbo Malone, an African American business woman; she  sold  hair products at the Fair and later became  a millionaire. Scott Joplin,  Lewis F. Muir, Lewis Chauvin, and other musicians visited or played at  the Fair.  Though ragtime   didn't have the `snobappeal' of classical  and marching band music, it  was extremely popular and thrived on the Pike.

The worst  account of  racism was  the indignancy of the human Zoos (called `People Shows'). They  were  a  means of bolstering popular racism by connecting it to scientific racismage."  Sadly  this  practice  continued  as late as 1958 at the Brussels' World Fair.

Though the 47-acre Philippine Village did  portray  the  more advanced Philippine people in a non-zoo  manner, by showcasing their hospitals, art, etc.  The  most popular  attraction was observing  the `lesser  advanced' tribes   such  as  the Igorats  and  Moros in `natural' settings.

They  were  shown  as cultural inferior, and  animal-like.  The  `primitives'  were also `encourage' to partake in  Western Civilization's cultures that they  had no familiarity with  whatsoever.  This  came to  a large fruition on the  Anthropology Days.

Amateur Athletic Union founder James E. Sullivan, who had  racist views, thought  that the  Anthropology Days (athlete games),  were at least partially successful. Sullivan considered the natives' failure to beat the Olympic record for the javelin a sure sign of racial inferiority rather than an aversion to an apparatus never before encountered.

Miss Jessie  Davis, the hostess of  the  Arizona  Bulding denied  a `black' couple  an opportunity  to  be  married in the  state  building (as per  her  ad),  because they  were of `color.' 

The National Association of Colored Women was holding their conference here July 13," da Silva recalls. "One of the women scouted around on site ahead of the conference and found out she couldn't get served anywhere; 2,000 women said 'hell, no. We won't go,' and they pulled out of St. Louis.

Another racist  aspect  of  the Fair  and  society in general  was  `black' `humor;'  these`comical'  illustrations  usually  portrayed  `black'  Americans  as raggedly  dressed and uneducated.  The below  comic is a plaque  that  reads: "We's g'wine to de world's fair, we is."  This illustration  shows in a  nutshell  how some Americans thought of African Americans.  These type of cartoons  could be  found on postcards, tin trays,  and souvenir plaques. It would many  decades of  small amount of positive gains,   as well as re-education  to  change  people's  minds.   

Though racists views and sterotypes did tarnish the  magnificent grandeur of he Fair,  it  can  not erase the positives that helped  push America forward. 

August 1, 1904, was supposed to be a celebration of 'Negro Day,'  A committee of African-American's headed by attorney Walter M. Farmer, abandoned the celebration, due to too much discrimination at the Fair- in particular, restaurants and eateries.  Colonel Marshall (of the Eighth Illinois, received a message stating that his 900 soldiers would not be allowed to bunk at the Fair’s barracks, and would have to provide their own tents and cooking outfit.
George Poage