Civil Rights Victory At Barnes' Eatery

March 11, 2007

It happened here this month in 1964: a bit of civil rights history, datelined Annapolis. And it was about more than the Cokes.

Just after 4 p.m. on March 9 that year, eight Annapolis students were the first blacks to be served at Barnes' restaurant. The victory was larger than it seemed because the restaurant had been the scene of several protests against segregation during sit-ins at the State House. Barnes was being sued in the first test case of the Maryland Public Accommodations Law of 1963.

The Sun reported that the successful sit-in occurred when several young picketers, white and black, attempted to be served on their way to demonstrate against Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, who had just filed for the Maryland Democratic presidential primary.

The group was served by Mrs. Charles G. Barnes, wife of the operator of the restaurant. Mr. Barnes was not there at the time.

The reporter asked whether the occasion meant a change in policy. Mrs. Barnes said only, "They got their Cokes."

[ Sources: Paul McCardell, Sun library research, Sun archives]

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