White Castle Protest

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On Saturday July 20, 1963, more than 30 Orange white and African American residents joined with leaders of the Essex County Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to protest at the White Castle restaurant on the corner Central Avenue and Scotland Road. Protesters were calling attention to the White Castle company’s “unfair Negro employment practices.” Protesters formed a picket line in front of the restaurant at midnight as eight CORE members led a sit-in demonstration inside. The protesters attracted 200 white hecklers, two of which were arrested for disorderly conduct and possession of firecrackers.

A similar protest was staged that night at the White Castle in Elizabeth, and others were held in Newark and North Bergen. Protests were also led at White Castle diners in the Bronx, Staten Island, and Long Island. In the Bronx, the pickets went on for several days in the face a threatening a violent crowd of white youths who jeered and threw stones at the protesters, Some were seen wearing KKK hoods and waving a white cross and a Confederate flags.

White Castle management initially refused to change their hiring policies to include quotes for nonwhite, but after a month a protests CORE claimed a victory when White Castle agreed to recruit more “Negroes and Puerto Ricans.” Sources: “Spectators Heckle Picketers.” Orange Transcript, July 25, 1963, p. 4; Matthews, Les. “’Bronx is a Bomb Ready to Explode.’” New York Amsterdam News, July 13, 1963, p. 1.

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