What happened to whites who used "Colored" facilities during segregation in the US?

The US South had “seperate but equal” facilities up until the civil rights movement. Seperate bathrooms, drinking fountains, parks etc.

I know that blacks who used the white facilities were punished but what if a white person used the colored’s facility? Would he be punished at all? Would it be as severe as if a black person used the white facilities?

Whites who used black-only facilities would be breaking the law, just the same as a black person who used white facilities. Of course, the punishments would have differed a bit. Some whites, who saw blacks as “dirty” might have ostracized the offender, but the legal repercussions, unless the person was known to be a (excuse the term, but it’s what they would have used) “nigger lover,” would have been much lighter. A black person who violated Jim Crow laws might have faced a lynching, whereas a white person who used the black facilities might have gotten a fine, or at worst, a few days in jail.

In a situation of necessity, such as if a white drinking fountain was broken, but the black fountain was working, a white offender might have been excused from legal repercussions, but never a black offender if the situation was reversed.

The stigma attached to whites using a colored drinking fountain was sufficient enough to keep that from happening often. The only ones who MIGHT be excused were young whites who might not know any better (who would be quickly taught otherwise) and young blacks who didn’t know any better, (who would be quickly taught otherwise, and either reprimanded and/or punished to keep them from doing it again.)

Consider also that the “separate but equal” facilities in question were most certainly separate, but the accomodations were RARELY equal in terms of size, cleanliness, working order or newness. While I have told of colored drinking fountains being left inoperable for days, (like the one outside the old Walgreen’s in downtown Atlanta) I can’t imagine a white drinking fountain being broken in the first place.

Very true. You can see here the comparison between two schools, one for white children, and one for black.

Jacksonville, Florida, 1963. I’m an 18 year old sailor attending Aviation Ordinance school. Born and raised in New York, white was white and black was black. We hung around together, played sports etc. The crap that was apparently going on in the South was totally foreign to my naive self. Back now to Jax…I watched a black couple approaching me in the opposite direction, actually step OFF the curb , and stood there, until I had passed. WTF?? Second occasion, I headed into what turned out to be a blacks only restroom…guy at the door grabbed me and turned me around and said ‘you don’t want to come in here, son’ WTF once again. I’ve related these two things many many times in my life to other NY natives and I guess we were ALL ignorant of the discrimination going on. Yikes.

My family is from St. Louis. During a trip down south in the early 1950s my sister, then about six, almost drank from a “Negro” drinking fountain. A white man, greatly concerned, ran up and stopped her, scaring her senseless in the process. My sister got the impression she would have gotten some kind of deadly cooties by drinking from the wrong water dispenser. My parents got the impression the man thought so too.

While not considered “down South”, there was plenty of enforced segregation in St. Louis at the time as well although it did not go as far as establishing separate drinking fountains. A friend of my parents, who happened to be of Greek descent, was continually being asked to leave restaurants by the management. She would have to show her driver’s license and demonstrate that her last name was one a black person would not be expected to have. I remember going to touring shows at the American Theater in downtown St. Louis in the late 60s and early 70s with my parents, and being told by my father that the uppermost balcony used to be the only place where African-Americans used to be able to get a seat.

St. Louis was the last city to have segregated seating at its baseball games. I believe that Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis was segregated for a year or so AFTER Jackie Robinson started playing.

When I was 4 years old all auto license plates were renewed at the same time in Florida resulting in long lines and a very hot and boring wait for a little girl. After a while I wandered away from my mother and (since I couldn’t even read yet! ) I amnaged to drink from the black drinking fountain. My parents were pretty liberal for the time but when my mom saw me, she gave me a whipping I remember to this day (not a spanking, a severe thrashing) and promptly marched my screaming crying butt into the WHITE ladies room where she used that pink powdered soap to SCRUB out my mouth. I never made that mistake again. That was about 1967…it was probably abother 3-5 years before the segregated facilities disappeared in Florida.

My mother, who grew up in Cleveland (OH), managed to get away with entering a “colored” rest room when she visited New Orleans while a college student in the mid-1950’s. As she recalled, she had just gotten off the train, and (though she had been reminded of the Jim Crow laws) was concerned only with the fact the word “Ladies” was on the door. She headed right for a stall, and didn’t realize she had committed a faux pas until she went to wash her hands and saw a black woman smiling at her with a “when you gotta go, you gotta go” look. Had Mom been “run in” by security forces, she might have been able to convince the arresting officers that her mistake had been an innocent one. After all, she was a good little “prescher’s kid”. Then again, had an investigation commenced, the discovery that her father was a fairly prominent civil rights activist (in a denomination that eventually became part of the United Church of Christ) could well have caused her to be branded a “Yankee troublemaker”…

My friend’s mother was a Polish war bride. She knew nothing of Southern segregation & used a “Colored Only” restroom in a Richmond department store. Told it was for colored only, she protested, “But I am colored – I am peenk!”

Re: The link to school pictures provided by Lissa.
I remember being taught by my (white) grade school teachers that black kids didn’t “need” good schools or books because (1) most of them were incapable of learning and (2) most of them would never be anything but sharecroppers, yardmen, or maids. I entered the first grade in 1946, just to set the time frame, back in Texas, just to set the place.