Food, Jazz, and Protest in Jim Crow Washington, D.C, 1940s-1960s
“Food, Jazz, and Protest in Jim Crow Washington, D.C,” a podcast from author Fred Opie’s book Southern Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution. In an abstract of the related chapter to the podcast, Opie writes, in the 1940s through the early 1960s, Washington, D.C. had predominantly Jim Crow restaurants and cafeterias that catered to a “whites only” customer base. Historically, U.S. officials created the nation's capital out of the southern territories of Virginia and Maryland, and a small but powerful block of Dixiecrats ensured that Jim Crow keep eateries in the city segregated. Those who lived and worked in D.C. also had to endure the “battle of the plate,” referring to the long lines outside of restaurants with high customer demand but inferior food and service. At the same time, in Northwest D.C. one could find good food at black-owned restaurants in the old U Street Northwest corridor now called the Shaw neighborhood. During the first half of the 20th century, it became a jazz haven for Washingtonians with various clubs that propelled local music careers and hosted legendary jazz artists.