African American man receives judgment in 1919 against Pantages Theater in Spokane for forced seating in the balcony.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 9/24/2003
  • Essay 5551

In 1919, an African American man receives a judgment of $200 in damages against the Pantages Theater in Spokane because he was forced to sit in the balcony. S. S. Moore sued the theater and a Superior Court jury awarded him damages.

A member of the jury told the Spokane Daily Chronicle, "All of us were for damages from the start."  The Chronicle went on to report "All declared that even if a man were black he had the right to sit where he wanted to," and that the judgment "is of widespread importance, for it means that negroes can not be segregated from whites in any place of public amusement in the state of Washington" (Kershner, 41).

The African American population in Spokane was approximately 1 percent of the total from 1900 through 1990. Segregation in other areas of public accommodation -- hotels and restaurants -- continued until declared illegal.


Jim Kershner, "Segregation in Spokane," Columbia, Vol 14, No. 4 (Winter 2000-2001), pp. 38-44.

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