DATE OF EVENT: Friday, Dec. 19, and Saturday, Dec. 20, 1958
DATE PUBLISHED: Saturday, Dec. 20, 1958, in The Kansas City Star
Editor’s note: During the Christmas shopping season, civil rights activists launched a boycott to protest segregation at department store restaurants. The move came as integration was taking hold in public accommodations — theaters and hotels in Kansas City had set segregation aside by 1956. Inspired by the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott of 1955-56, the protest continued for six weeks and ended with a success that inspired future activism in the civil rights movement. By May all downtown stores had integrated their luncheonettes.
Negro pickets marched late yesterday and again today outside some downtown department stores carrying signs protesting their inability to be served in the store restaurants.
The Rev. Lawrence S. Odom, pastor of the Ebenezer A. M. E. church, co-chairman of the picketing committee of an organization called the Community Committee for Social Action, said the group sought to have the stores serve food to Negroes.
William G. Austin, manager of the Merchants’ association, said that because of the holiday shopping rush the stores had not been able to give the situation the attention needed to reach a conclusion. He said the stores would confer with the group later.
Twelve pickets, all ministers, were on duty late yesterday for two hours, and 20 additional pickets were planned for today. The stores affected are Macy’s, Peck’s, Emery Bird-Thayer, Jones and Kline’s.