In 1950 the Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws, a multi-racial civil rights advocacy group led by Mary Church Terrell, engaged in sit-in demonstrations in order to test the 1872 and 1873 DC laws outlawing segregation in public places, specifically including restaurants, soda fountains, barber shops, and hotels, among others. The laws had been dropped from the DC Code in 1901 but had never been formally repealed. The case went to the Supreme Court as District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., Inc. in 1953. In a landmark decision, the Court deemed the 19th-century laws still valid, effectively ending legal support for discrimination in public places.
Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), 220-231.
District of Columbia Center for Citizen Education in the Law, “Eat Anywhere! The Thompson's Restaurant Case,” 1991.
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