In the 1930′s, America was racially divided. Many towns in the South denied service to black men and women. It was nearly impossible for them to get a hotel room, and equally as difficult for them to get a meal in a restaurant.
Around this time, Edward “Duke” Ellington and his band were touring through the segregated Southern towns. To avoid the injustices and insults that they were sure to encounter, Ellington rented two private railroad cars. The trains provided a place for the band to eat, sleep, and store their equipment. Staying true to the form of a musician, Ellington and his crew would also throw parties on the rail cars.
“That was the way the President traveled,” Ellington said.
Racial segregation is clearly asinine. It began for the same reason racism still exists – because of inane, imbecilic people who let unfounded fears control their ignorant minds.
However, there is something beautiful about the simple fact that Ellington and his band mates toured in their own railroad cars. I don’t think I’d mind traveling the country, playing packed ballrooms every night before returning to my train car for good times with friends.
All would be aboard for the next city and the next show. And together, we would watch the world go by.