By Raoul Granqvist
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Among the latter were Albert and Elizabeth Burt; he was a cook and steward aboard a paddle wheeler, and she operated a boardinghouse for single black workers in La Crosse. Another was Joseph Grisson and his wife, Isabella; he worked as a steamboat porter. 11 It is likely that Southall or others who were similarly engaged in the river commerce had found Taylor at Alton and had brought him onboard the Hawkeye State and to La Crosse. 14 That Taylor suffered no lasting debilitating effects from his early years in Alton—unless the health issues that appeared later in his life can be traced back to his youth—is a testament to the care he received from his new parents.
The ideals of personal commitment and loyalty were similarly scarce. Most invested wildly and often, perhaps believing that something would bring reward but not knowing what might work; success that came from meager investment today surely would be replicated tomorrow by someone else who would spoil the idea through saturation. Role models for those seeking success tended to be ﬂamboyant, loud, risk taking, and willing to change course quickly when either opportunity or adversity surfaced. No one trusted government or anyone in command.
Restaurants also were restricted not by law but by custom. Single blacks ate in boardinghouses or in their own homes if married. Those who could invest found that certain areas of the city became the sections where black-owned houses were to be located. Schools were open to all races, and in fact the First Ward School was geographically near a major black housing district, with the result that blacks were overrepresented in the city’s schools during the 1870s and 1880s. Railroad travel and entertainment might be segregated, depending more on the whim of the ticket taker than on the law.
Culture in Africa: an appeal for pluralism by Raoul Granqvist