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Coffee and the Civil Rights Movement

Coffee by the Blog

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Coffee and the Civil Rights Movement

Carrie Masek

Next Monday, January 15, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., his contributions to this country, and his vision of an America united in its diversity. 2018 is a great time to look back on the Civil Rights Movement, and for Coffee by the Blog, I decided to focus on the role coffee played.

Most folks know about the historic sit-in at the Woolworth's lunch counter on February 1, 1960.  Four college students ordered coffee, but the lunch counter refused to serve them. Four students swelled to hundreds in the following days and kicked off an avalanche of non-violent protests that eventually inspired Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Your can read more about the Woolworth's sit-in here, but I'm going to talk about a much earlier sit-in.

The first successful sit-in was here in Chicago and it started with coffee.  In 1943, seventeen years before the famous Woolworth's sit-in, a group of both black and white students from the University of Chicago read the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and formed the Committee (later Congress) of Racial Equality.  After their first meeting, they decided to continue their discussions at Jack Spratt Coffeehouse, a local coffee shop. The staff served the white students, but refused to serve the black ones. 

Later that year, Core turned the incident into a peaceful protest, and when the other patrons of the coffeehouse saw the staff refuse to serve the black members of the group, they stopped eating and joined the sit-in.  No one left the coffeehouse, and there wasn't room for new customers to come in.  The manager called the police, but they had been told about the protest and refused to intervene since no law had been broken. Eventually, Jack Spratt Coffeehouse gave up and served all patrons regardless of color. To learn more, click here

To celebrate the role coffee played in the Civil Rights Movement, and to thank the readers of our blog, we're offering a free 1/2 roast of coffee with orders placed over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Order your coffee from now through Monday and write "MLK" in the box for Additional Instructions. We'll add a 1/2 roast of Midwinter's Brew to your order at no additional charge.  

Since Monday is a postal holiday, all orders received between Friday noon and Tuesday morning will be roasted and mailed on Tuesday. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

~ Carrie, Paul and the folks at Coffee by the Roast.