“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

Sit-in Demonstration Site

Stewart's Dry Goods


— 501 South Fourth Street —

Sit-in Demonstration Site Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 26, 2020
1. Sit-in Demonstration Site Marker
Inscription.  Stewart's Dry Goods, the largest and most prestigious department store in Louisville, was located at this site. In the 1950s, a trip to Stewart's was a special occasion, requiring a hat and gloves for ladies doing a day of shopping or eating lunch at its elegant Orchid Tea Room. But African Americans were excluded from this experience by policies that denied them the right to try on clothes, use the washrooms or eat in the restaurants.

On February 9, 1961, young people from CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and the NAACP Youth Council chose Stewart's as their first target for demonstrations. Their arrest during their first sit-in triggered a mass demonstration campaign that spread throughout the downtown, provoked the “Nothing New for Easter” boycott and lasted through the spring. Large numbers of protesters were arrested and subjected to acts of violence by store employees.

By April 27, 1961, more protesters in Louisville had been incarcerated (685 total) during demonstrations than anywhere in the nation to that point. But, Stewart's earned its reputation, referred to by civil rights leaders as the “bulwark
Sit-in Demonstration Site Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 26, 2020
2. Sit-in Demonstration Site Marker
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of segregation” in Louisville. It was not until the passage of the Public Accommodations Ordinance in 1963 that black customers were served in Stewart's restaurants. The store was purchased by L.S. Ayers in 1985 and later closed.

“Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round, turn me 'round,
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round, I'm gonna keep on walkin',
keep on talkin, marchin to freedom land”

Dedicated to the memory of Dr. J. Blaine Hudson (September 8,1949 - January 5, 2013)

Erected 2014 by University of Louisville: College of Arts and Sciences and Office for International, Diversity and Outreach Programs; Louisville Metro Council; Louisville Downtown Partnership; Office of the Mayor; Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; and The Louisville (KY) Chapter, The Links Incorporated.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil Rights. A significant historical date for this entry is February 9, 1981.
Location. 38° 15.058′ N, 85° 45.446′ W. Marker is in Louisville, Kentucky, in Jefferson County. Marker is at the intersection of South 4th Street and West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, on the right when traveling north on South 4th Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 501 South 4th Street, Louisville KY 40202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are
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within walking distance of this marker. Thomas Merton - (1915-68) / A Revelation (within shouting distance of this marker); Rotary Club of Louisville / Henry Watterson Hotel (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Civil Rights Movement Overview - Fourth Street Sit-In Demonstration Sites (about 300 feet away); Blue Boar Cafeteria (about 300 feet away); Sit-In Demonstration Site (about 400 feet away); Cathedral of the Assumption (about 600 feet away); Mother Catherine Spaulding (about 600 feet away); Campaign to End Racial Segregation in Louisville (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Louisville.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 10, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 19 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 10, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 9, 2021