The Tenth Man: Living Black in Blue
The world of law enforcement and criminal justice in the South during the Jim Crow Era was vastly different than it is today, and segregation was especially difficult for black police officers who were challenged to enforce laws. William J. Day was one of the first 10 African American police officers in Savannah, GA. His story is one of courage, fortitude and dedication to his career and his family. In May, 1947, he joined the Savannah police department. In those days of segregation, severe limits were placed on black law enforcement officers. There were segregated drinking fountains in precinct stations. Black policemen were allowed to patrol only in black communities, and had to call in a commander if they arrested a white suspect. White officers would steam-clean the seats of their police cruisers after black officers had driven them. “The black officers were reduced to automatic civilian status when they walked off the job,” recalls his son, Charles E. Day, Sr. “My father had to deal with it, plus keep a job and raise a family.” William and Laura raised a family of four sons, one of whom was an invalid. Laura had studied nursing, but gave up her career to care for her family. She was always home for her children and the home was always filled with friends and good food. William J. Day, Sr. passed away in April 1972, just shy of his 60th birthday. As his son Charles approached his own 60th birthday, he wanted to memorialize the legacy of his father and pay tribute to a remarkable man. This book is written about this father’s life and his family. The Tenth Man: Living in Black and Blue tells the story of this era in Southern history, the city of Savannah, GA, the civil rights movement and the lives of people who endured these hardships.
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Page 6 - Savannah experiment in bettering communal race relations has progressed so satisfactorily that its opponents now largely concede that Negro policemen are here to stay.