Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Broken dishes
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TitleBroken dishes
DescriptionA passage written by Knox College sociology professor J. Howell Atwood relating an incident of racial injustice suffered by three African American youths in Galesburg, Illinois in 1937.
CreatorAtwood, Jesse Howell;
AuthorAtwood, Jesse Howell;
Time Period1930s
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 9)
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Date Digital2012-07-23
TranscriptAPPENDIX B 22

Result thereof

In the spring of 1937 three C.C.C. Negro boys
were served refreshments at the lunch tables of one
of the main downtown chain drugstores of Galesburg. When
they had finished eating the assistant man-
ager came to their table, collected the dishes,
deliberately dropped them to the floor and then
charged the boys for their orders and for the
dishes he had broken. The boys apparently were
unprepared for such a situation and
paid the amount demanded. Later they
went to the police headquarters insisting
that an officer go with them to the store
and help them recover what they felt they
had been unjustly forced to pay. They got no
immediate satisfaction from the police, though they
were told they could institute legal

Several Knox College students were in
the store at the time of the breaking of the
dishes. They reported that the young
Negro men had been quiet and above criti-
cism in their behavior while in the store. Apparently the
affair was dramatic; also unwarranted. It was brought
to the attention of the ministers' association by one
of the Negro ministers. This organization
appointed an investigating committee to
check on the facts involved. Certain

p. 2
Negro citizens personally made inquiry of the
management as to what had taken place and
made demand that the man be disciplined.
The writer sent a letter to the president
of the corporation in Chic[a]go indicating
what had happened and
protesting at the inharmony between
such treatment of Negro patrons
and the corporation's policy in its Chicago
stores; indicating also that considerable public indignation was aroused.
He also assisted the editor of
the Illinois Star in sending an effect-
ive protest against this gross public
insult. One of the ministers spoke point-
edly of this injustice in his Palm Sunday
sermon. As result an inspector repres-
enting the central office of the company came to G. [Galesburg]
to make inquity into the various as-
pects of the case. Certain Negroes were demand-
ing the discharge of the assistant
manager. However, the company trans-
ferred the man to another city, contending that he
had learned a lesson from the exper-
ience. Later the executive officers of
the local branch of the NAACP sought to
get the CCC boys involved to bring suit
against the corporation. Before this

p. 3
rather belated plan could be fully worked out
the 6 months period of service of at least one of the young
Negroes had expired and
thus the three were no longer in this part of
the state. There was some reason to
believe that the officers of the CCC
camp were not eager to see the case
pressed in the courts. [paragraph symbol] The case is
recited in this brief manner to
show that there was community re-
action among both Negroes and whites against the unjust and discourt-
eous treatment accorded the three Negro boys.
It manifested itself in reasonably effect-
ive protest which resulted in a com-
promise solution. Technically Negroes may
eat at this drug store, but Negroes
have told the writer that they do not
feel really welcome to do so.
Physical Description8.5 x 11 in. handwritten sheets
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