Lester Maddox, restaurant owner of Atlanta, Georgia (south-eastern U.S.) who closed his restaurant in August?
Lester Maddox, restaurant owner of Atlanta, Georgia (south-eastern U.S.) who closed his restaurant in August rather than permit its integration, re-opened on the same location as a cafeteria Monday (28 September) and shoved away four Negro ministers who tried to enter.
Maddox re-opened as a "local" restaurant, not catering to travellers, and so claimed he avoided the provisions of the public accommodation section of the Civil Rights Act because he says his establishment is not now related to interstate commerce. The Civil Rights Act bars any discrimination in businesses engaged in interstate commerce. Two hours after the Negroes were barred, their attorneys filed a contempt of court action against Maddox. A hearing was set for Friday (2 October). In August, a Federal court, acting under the Civil Rights Act barred Maddox from refusing service to Negroes.
The four Negroes arrived shortly before noon. Maddox, wearing a Goldwater for President button, ordered them off his property. Then he shoved them bodily to the sidewalk. "Lester, you are crazy, you are sick." said one of the Negroes.
"Yeah, I'm crazy enough to want my business," he replied.
Then one of the Negroes said: "You are a disgrace."
Maddox then told reporters: "They'll kill me before I integrate my place."
In the three weeks interim before re-opening his restaurant Maddox sold ax handles, segregationist pamphlets and a carbonated drink called "Gold Water."