Dr. Victor Hoo
Ralph J. Bunche
12 March 1947

Trip to Atlanta, Georgia

On 5 March I boarded the Crescent Limited, a Pennsylvania-Southern Railroad train en route to Atlanta, Georgia, in order to give six talks in two days at Atlanta University on the general subject of the significance of the United Nations to minority or subject peoples. The travel expenses for the trip were borne by Atlanta University, which extended the invitation. My Pullman reservations were purchased through the United Nations travel office, however, for which I reimbursed the United Nations.

In the early afternoon, between New York and Washington, I ate lunch in the diner without incident. In the evening, however, while the train was still standing in Washington, I entered the same diner for dinner and was informed by the dining car steward that I must be seated at a table conspicuously separated from the rest of the diner by a drawn curtain and on which was placed a standard marked "reserved". This table, the steward explained, was set aside for "coloured" travellers en route to points south of Washington. Since I was in inter-state travel no question of state laws was involved, but only the customary policy of the railroads.

I, of course, refused to sit at this table and left the diner. I subsequently cancelled my return ticket and returned by Eastern Air Lines without incident.

In my view a very important question of United Nations principle and policy is involved in this incident, which will, of course, be repeated with respect to other Negro members of the United Nations staff and quite possibly to other non-white members travelling south on this road.


It would seem to me highly desirable that the United Nations policy should be, to the fullest extent possible, not to do business with any companies or firms which deliberately and overtly violate one of the fundamental principles on which the United Nations is based. Any other policy will inevitably result in incidents and publicity which can only do serious injury to the public relations of the United Nations.

Copies to:
Dr. Aleksander
Mr. Cordier
Travel Office
Mr. Lawson
Mr. Dean
Mr. Bough