Although the theater closed in the early 1970s, it was a location in the 1960s that for many was a place of struggle and of hope. African Americans dreamed of being admitted to the theater to watch upcoming films but were constantly denied due to Jim Crow practices. This particular business was targeted because of its high visibility downtown. Protest organizers knew that publicity and newspaper coverage would sway public opinion and to eventually give them admittance to the theater. Because this theater was constantly busy, it made it an ideal location for African-Americans to conduct their demonstrations.
Students would usually walk around outside singing songs of liberation, holding signs, or just sit on the sidewalk. Many individuals were arrested regularly for demonstrating and usually charged with either disturbing the peace or blocking the sidewalk. The theater remained open during demonstrations so their cause always had an audience. For example, on February 23, 1961, demonstrations were held across downtown Louisville. Six teenagers were arrested at the Mary Anderson Theater for disorderly conduct and delinquency. In response to the protests, a number of businesses agreed to curb Jim Crow practices, and the campaign was considered a success.