Today, we celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – an American pastor, humanitarian and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King dedicated most of his life to campaigning for equality and justice. We here at Sip & Savor pay homage to this great American.
Many people may not realize that soda fountains played a critical role in the movement's quest to end the segregationist laws that prohibited African-Americans from attending the same schools or eating in the same diners as whites. In the 1950s, soda fountains or lunch counters were the heart of many communities and were where townspeople gathered for a break from their day.
African-Americans in many of these towns confronted segregation by walking into "white only" restaurants, lunch counters and soda fountains, seating themselves and asking to be served. These courageous men and women were refused service, but their acts exposed the unfairness of the segregationist system. Eventually, in many communities the owners of the businesses relented and ended their refusals, marking some of the first successes in a civil rights movement that swept the country and led to landmark laws guaranteeing equal treatment for all American citizens.
For more on the desegregation movement, check out this article.