University of Mississippi

Civil Rights Act of 1964 Research Grant and Call for Papers

The Center for the Study of Southern Culture (CSSC) and the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi announce a $1,000 research grant to catalyze scholarship on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the desegregation of Southern restaurants.

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2 of that year, he leveraged the power of the federal government to desegregate restaurants and other places of public accommodation. In the wake of that decision, some operators transformed their business into key clubs, private restaurants where admission was determined by skin color. Others staged public protests and fought unsuccessful legal battles through the federal courts. Others still acquiesced and acknowledged the absurdity of a system wherein black employees often cooked for white customers in white-owned restaurants where they could not, in turn, eat.

Much has changed in the 50 years that followed. Restaurants desegregated by law, if not by practice. Some African American restaurants, which had leveraged the dictates of segregation to claim a constituency, went out of business. Many restaurants, especially those geared to a middle-class and upper-middle-class clientele, have resegregated based on class.

Among the questions we hope researchers might ask are: 1) How did the public accommodations clause affect restaurants in the South, particularly those businesses owned by African Americans? 2) How and why did key clubs perpetuate segregated dining in 1964 and onward? 3) If some restaurants segregated by race until 1964, how do restaurants segregate clientele now, and what can that tell us about civic life the 21st century?

The grant of $1,000 is payable in two parts: $500 upon assignment and $500 on the delivery by March 3, 2014, of a scholarly article based on the completed research. The article will undergo the peer-review process, and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture will have first publication rights for the article—planned for the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act—after which the scholar may use it as he or she desires.

To apply for the grant, please send a CV along with a cover letter of no more than 500 words that includes a preliminary research plan to: Sara Camp Arnold, Southern Foodways Alliance, Barnard Observatory, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677; or e-mail materials to saracamp@southernfoodways.org. Applications are due on September 3, 2013, and the successful candidate will be notified by September 16. CSSC expects that the successful candidate will be an advanced graduate student or professional scholar in a field such as history, American studies, African American studies, or sociology.

For reference, Title II of the Act, “Injunctive Relief against Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation,” reads, in part:

SEC. 201.

(a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

(b) Each of the following establishments which serve the public is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of this title if its operations affect commerce, or if discrimination or segregation by it is supported by State action:

(1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence;

(2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station;