The site where The Jack Spratt Coffee House is said to be where one of the first sit-ins to protest racial in equality took place. During the winter of 1942 the coffee shop refused top serve people of color. As a result, Civil Rights Activist James Farmer organized a sit-in and founded CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). The site where the coffee house once stood is responsible for inspiring sit-in movements throughout the nation, resulting it what has come to be known as the Civil Rights Movement.
many Americans are somewhat knowledgeable about the Civil Rights Movement.
After all, protests and sit-ins in the name of racial equality practically
dominated the 1960s. However, what has often gone unnoticed to some is the fact
that a lunch counter sit-in that took place in a small coffee shop in Chicago,
Illinois is what arguably set the stage for the many sit-ins that occurred
between the 1950s and 60s. During the Spring of 1943, management at The Jack
Spratt Coffee House had refused to serve James Farmer, a young black man who
had entered the restaurant with a friend. Unbeknownst to the restaurant, their
refusal of service to people of color would set into motion a series of
protests throughout the United States, inspiring black people all over the
nation to seek change through persistence and peace.
James Farmer, the son of a minister
and the grandson of a slave, was a recent graduate from Howard University who
had come to Chicago in anticipation of moving in with some friends. It was a
cold winter day in 1943 when Farmer and his friend, Jimmy Robinson, stepped
into Jack Spratt for a donut. Management refused to serve Farmer at first but
gave in eventually. Farmer, who had studied the teachings of Ghandi at Howard,
saw this as an opportunity to influence change through nonviolent resistance.
Thus, the Committee for Racial Equality was born. James Farmer and Jimmy
Robinson returned to the coffee shop with an integrated group of black and
white friends. They all took a seat and refused to move until everyone was served.
Ghandi’s teachings of change and
growth through nonviolent, peaceful protesting was the foundation of CORE
(Congress of Racial Equality). Protesters and strangers sat in unity within the
restaurant as some whites who were not members of CORE took note of what was
happening and refused to eat anything they were served. The police were called.
However, they refused to forcibly remove anyone from the restaurant given the
peaceful nature of the protest. The Jack Spratt staff, at last, gave in and
everyone was severed. James Farmer, with the help of CORE, had changed the way
The Jack Spratt Coffee House would do business from then on.