July 27, 1908 (Monday)
DELAWARE JUDGE OVERRULES DECISION THAT BANNED USED OF HONORIFIC FOR BLACKS: Someone named Christopher Brooks can now be discharged from being sentenced to the Workhouse by a Judge Edwin R. Cochran in Delaware. His crime? As the article at right says, Brooks, who is black, used a courtesy title, or honorific, (e.g., "Mr.", "Mrs." or "Miss") when speaking of a black person. I noticed the item because today's Times had a brief mention in its editorial page. Working backward, I found out more about the sentence in an article printed on July 18 in Syracuse's Post-Standard (at right). The article says Mr. Brooks
forgot himself and called Sarah archer, a negress, "Mrs. Archer."
She was the prosecuting witness in a trial. Brooks was charged with breach of peace, fined $5 and costs.
This article, from a week ago, said
Judge Cochran, who is a well-known Democratic leader, did not cite any precedents. His only reason, apparently, was his dislike of negroes.
Although the article of July 18 said the ruling would not be reviewed by a higher court, it was.
On July 23, the Superior Court's Judge Spruance overturned the ruling. An article the next day in The New York Times paraphrased Spruance as saying that Cochran "had not more right to make such a ruling applicable to negroes in his court than he would have to make it applicable to foreigners."
He ordered Brooks to be discharged from custody.