Student Protest of Segregation at the College Inn, 1963-1964
Now home to a popular sports bar, this location was home to the College Inn during the 1950s and 1960s. This popular cafeteria maintained a policy of racial segregation after the University of Florida admitted its first African American students in 1962. In the summer of 1963, the NAACP Youth Council, together with black and white UF students, began picketing the College Inn and other restaurants and movie theaters that still maintained racial segregation. The pickets continued throughout the summer until a committee was formed to end segregation at this establishment and others. However, white city leaders refused to participate in the negotiations and integration of the College Inn, Florida Theater, and other Gainesville establishments did not occur until the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Backstory and Context
For example, oral histories recall that some students celebrated the news of a fire that temporarily closed the College Inn in 1962. The Alligator, the student newspaper at the University of Florida, reported that some of the students who watched the blaze were cheering so loudly that one of the firefighters retaliated by directing his hose stream away from the building and spraying some of the bemused students before returning to the task of saving the building.
The College Inn closed for some time as a result of the fire, and there is no indication that it refused service to African Americans when it reopened, likely due to the growing disapproval of segregation among both white and black students. Regardless of the perception of students or any decision by the cafeteria's managers, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act settled the issue by requiring equal accommodation at all places that served the public.
Image Credit, University of Florida Digital Collections, http://ufdc.ufl.edu/rwg/1960s.