|Claude Marchant photographed |
by Carl Van Vechten, 1947
The petitioner in the case is Claude Marchant, an up-and-coming African-American dancer. Although only 23, his résumé includes a stint in Katherine Dunham's modern dance troupe, as well as Broadway appearances in the revival of Show Boat and the calypso musical Caribbean Carnival.
In March, 1947, he visits an acquaintance who lives in No. 25. He's turned away from the passenger elevator and told to take the service car ‒ the elevator operator later says he thought Marchant was a delivery boy. When it happens again several months later, Marchant files a racial discrimination lawsuit against the French Company, owner of No. 25. In May, 1948, he wins a jury award of $1,000, the maximum award under the law.
|Headline from The New York Age, an African-American newspaper founded in 1873.|
The New York Age calls the reversal a "below-the-belt blow at the whole civil rights program for the State and City of New York" and goes on to swat "swank, lily-white" Tudor City.