West Virginia Restaurants
Refuse to Serve African-Americans

Charleston Gazette
June 1, 1963

Along U. S. 60

50 Eating Places Refuse Negroes

Two Charleston travelers, back from a test tour of U. S. 60, reported Friday that a Negro can sit down and drink a cup of coffee in only two restaurants between White Sulphur Springs and Charleston.

The two, both Charleston Negroes, said they were turned away from more than 50 eating places.

"Everybody was very polite," said Oliver M. Greene of 202 Davidson Ave., "but firm."

Greene, who teaches industrial arts at Marmet Junior High School, was accompanied on the trip by Mrs. Cynthia Burks, a widow who lives at 915 Rugby St. He said the tour was a project of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

Actually they were served at three places. They were permitted to eat lunch in a Lewisburg restaurant, but were told it was a violation of the restaurant's policy and that it wouldn't happen again. Greene said some Greenbrier College girls who were in an adjoining booth got up on their knees to look at them and "appeared to be about as excited as if they were at a basketball game."

Greene and Mrs. Burks were served with question at two other places - in White Sulphur Springs and Rainelle.

Greene appeared to be amused rather than embittered by the experience. "It's just as adventurous for a Negro to travel U. S. 60 now," he said with a smile, "as it was for a white man to travel it 100 years ago."

He suggested that the National Safety Council work to integrate highway restaurants. "Every Negro traveler is a potential killer," he said, because he can get no food, rest or refreshment to ease his nerves during a long drive.

Greene said he saw only one "White Only" sign on the trip. That was at a Cedar Grove bus stop.

African Americans

West Virginia Archives and History