Knoxville in Knox County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Gay Street and the Civil Rights Movement
Gay Street and The Civil Rights Movement
In late 1959 Knoxville College Students initiated the efforts to desegregate the city’s lunch counters and movie theaters in downtown Knoxville. They held sit-ins at the lunch counters and stand-ins at the theaters. After three years of mostly peaceful demonstrations, the eating establishments and movie theaters desegregated on July 5, 1963.
Perhaps the most humorous experience of all occurred at Grant’s lunch counter, which always closed when Knoxville College students appeared. One day Rosemary Martin and I took seats there, and the counter promptly closed and the waitresses disappeared in the back. An elderly white woman came in and took a seat not too far from us, and waited for service which did not come. Rosemary told her that the counter was closed. “What on earth for?” she replied. “We are in the middle of lunch time.” When we told her it was closed because there were Negroes there, she said, “Where are they? I don’t see any.”
Robert J. Booker
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights. A significant historical date for this entry is July 5, 1963.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 507 S Gay Street, Knoxville TN 37902, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Gay Street (a few steps from this marker); Charles Christopher Krutch (a few steps from this marker); Tennessee Ernie Ford (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of John H. Crozier Home (within shouting distance of this marker); Creation of the Southeastern Conference (within shouting distance of this marker); Catherine Wiley (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of Blount College (within shouting distance of this marker); Tennessee Theater (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Knoxville.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 27, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 25, 2021, by J. Makali Bruton of Accra, Ghana. This page has been viewed 100 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 26, 2021, by J. Makali Bruton of Accra, Ghana.