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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
© 1963 by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted by: Democratic Natégnal
In South Say Patronage
Holds Up in Long Run
Some Hotels, Restaurants Do
Better; Atlanta, Dallas Cite
Larger Convention Market
New Rights Often Not Used
By JAMES C. TANNER
Staff Reporter of THe WALL STREET JOURNAL
ATLANTA—Things are swinging these days
at the Wit’s End, a swank North Side night
club which opened its doors last November.
Though the Treasury's. new expense account
rules made things tough at first, the. Wit’s
End is now packing in customers regularly.
In Memphis, the 126-room Downtowner Mo-
tel is doing so well its occupancy is even run-
ning ahead of last year's booming 95% rate.’
The Downtowner has been filled to capacity
much of the time in recent weeks and all
signs point to a record year.
The financial fortunes of these Southern
establishments are of special interest because
both are among those that have begun serving
Negroes for the first time. Their experiences,
plus those of scores of other businesses from
Texas to the Carolinas, point up a significant
and perhaps surprising fact: Among those
restaurants, hotels, theaters and other places
of public accommodation in the South that
have begun serving or hiring Negroes, only
a few report suffering any lasting economic
consequences. A sizabie number, in fact, de-
clare that business has been better than ever.
“Couldn’t Have Been Smoother’
“We were scared to death—we could just
see all our white customers walking out the
minute the first Negroes walked in,” says Paul
Stickney, manager of the Wit’s End. “But
things couldn’t have been any smoother. We
know of only one white couple who walked
out because we admitted Negroes and they
came back within two weeks. As far as stirring
things up around here, it’s been one big zero."*
The Wit’s End is one of only three Atlanta
night. clubs serving both whites and Negroes.
All this is not to suggest that desegregation
would go smoothly for all Dixie establish-
ments. At Ormond Beach, Fla., near Daytona
Beach, motel operator George Thomas is still
reeling from the financial punch delivered by
boycotting whites when he decided it was the
“right thing’ to desegregate his 32-unit Star
of the South Motel seven months ago. “My
business at first dropped about 50%,’ he re-
ports. But he adds that an influx of Negro
guests quickly took up much of the slack, and
he expresses confidence that many of his
white customers eventually will return.
But most businessmen questioned by The
Wall Street Journal report no grave economic
dislocations from integration and they leave
no doubt that desegregation of commercial fa-
cilities has been less painful than expected.
No Loss of Business
“Things have been going like clockwork—
we're surprised and pleased,"’ says Dallas hotel
man Henry Rather of last summer’s decision
by the city’s major hotels and motels to inte-
grate. Mr. Rather says a recent check of the
city’s 35 largest hostelries failed to turn up a
single instance of lost business because of de-
segregation. ‘‘There were a few letters and
a crank call or two at first, but that’s all,”
comments Mr. Rather.
Broader access to privately owned places
of ‘‘public convenience,"’ such as hotels, res-
taurants, amusement facilities and stores, has
become a prime goal of Negroes lately. The
recent riots in Birmingham, and subsequent
disturbances in such cities as Savannah, Ga.,
Jackson, Miss., Danville, Va., and Tallahassee
Fla., primarily revolved around Negro de-
mands that merchants open their facilities to
Negroes—in some cases as customers and in
others as employes.
The question has taken on added impor-
tance in recent weeks with the appeal to Con-
gress by President Kennedy for Federal power
to outlaw racial discrimination in all places
of public accommodation, This is unquestion-
ahly the most controversial provision of the
Kennedy civil rights program and seems
likely to become the focal point of the coming
Congressional battle over civil rights.
MONDAY, JULY 15, 1963
Negroes Making Major Strides
Southern businessmen generally express
strong opposition to this section of the pro-
posed civil rights legislation. But even with-
out such a law, Negroes are making major
strides in their push to break down segrega-
tion barriers. The Justice Department reports
that some desegregation of commercial facili-
ties occurred in 143 cities in Southern and
border states in the four weeks ended June 18;
others are joining the list daily.
Last week, for instance, a bi-racial com-
mittee in strongly segregationist Fort Worth
announced that all of the city’s public facili-
ties, including hotels, restaurants, theaters, de-
partment stores and athletic contests, would
be desegregated in September when the city’s
schools are scheduled for integration.
If the pattern emerging in other Southern
cities holds true, Fort Worth merchants can
expect some protests and loss of business
when they first begin accepting Negroes. But
experience shows that such adverse effects
are rarely lasting.
Fred Harvey, president of Harvey's Depart-
ment Store in Nashville, says that when his
store desegregated its lunch counters in 1960
only 13 charge accounts were closed out of
60,000. “‘The greatest surprise I ever had was
the apparent ‘so-what’ attitude of white cus-
tomers,"’ says Mr. Harvey.
Even where business losses occur, they
usually are only temporary. At the 120-room
Peachtree Manor Hotel in Atlanta, owner
Irving H. Goldstein says his business dropped
off 15% when the hotel desegregated a year
ago. “But now we are only slightly behind a
year ago and we can see we are beginning
to recapture the business we initially lost,"
declares Mr. Goldstein.
William F, Davoren, owner of the Brownie
Drug Co. in Huntsville, Ala., reports that
though his business fell a bit for several weeks
after lunch counters were desegregated, he’s
now picked up all that he lost. Says he: “I
could name a dozen people who regarded it as
a personal affront when I started serving Ne-
groes, but have come back as if nothing had
Memories Are Short
Even a segregation-minded businessman in
Huntsville agrees that white customers fre-
quently have short memories when it comes
to the race question. W. T. Hutchens, general
manager of three Walgreen stores there, says
1730 K Street, N.W.- Washington 6, D.C.
he held out when most lunch counter operators
gave in to sit-in pressures last July. In one
shopping center where his competition de-
segregated, Mr. Hutchens says his business
shot up sharply and the store’s lunch counter
volume registered a 12% gain for the year.
However, this year business has dropped back
to pre-integration. levels ‘‘because a lot of
people have forgotten’’ the defiant role his
stores played during the sit-ins, he adds.
Some Southern businessmen who have de-
Segregated say they have picked up extra
business as a result of the move.
At Raleigh, N.C., where Gino's Restaurant
was desegregated this year, owner Jack Grif-
fiths reports only eight whites have walked out
after learning the establishment served Ne-
groes, and he says ‘‘we're getting plenty of
customers to replace the hard-headed ones,”
In Dallas, integration of hotels and restau-
rants has “opened up an entirely new area of
convention prospects,”’ according to Ray Ben-
nison, convention manager of the Chamber of
Commerce. “This year we've probably added
$8 million to $10 million of future bookings be-
cause we're integrated," Mr. Bennison says.
Conventions for Atlanta
Within a day after 14 Atlanta hotels an-
nounced on June 13 they would begin accepting
Negro guests who come to the city with con-
ventions, the Atlanta Convention Bureau had
nailed down three organizations for 1964 and
1965 meetings, a total of 3,000 delegates who
otherwise would not have visited Atlanta.
Walter Crawford, executive vice president of
the Convention Bureau, says the hotels’ deci-
sion opens up “‘the remaining 40% of the con-
vention market that we estimate we haven't
even been able to talk to before."
One frequently expressed fear of Southern
white businessmen, that their éstablishments
would be overrun by Negroes if they inte-
grated, apparently is not materializing. ‘‘The
Negroes want the right to enter your place of
business, but they’re not so anxious to use the
right," says a Nashville banker.
At Knoxville, Tenn., William Tiller, assist-
ant manager of the city’s largest hotel, the
Andrew Johnson, reports that although the
hotel has been integrated more than a month,
“we've had only three Negro families and two