Unlikely Duo Desegregated Fayetteville Restaurants

In honor of Black History Month, 5NEWS is sharing the story of an unlikely duo who made an impact on Fayetteville by ...

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 4:52 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2018 4:52 PM

In honor of Black History Month, 5NEWS is sharing the story of an unlikely duo who made an impact on Fayetteville by desegregating restaurants in the city.

It's the story of a small civil rights group from the University of Arkansas, that fought for big changes in equality.

The two last-living members saw each other for the first time in more than 50 years during the interview.

One of them is black: Semon Thompson. The other is white: Holly Childs. They worked together in 1962.

"I thought the segregationist attitude was illogical, irrational, and unkind," Childs said.

That year, the two students spent weekends ordering pie and coffee at local restaurants and cafes to see if they would be served or asked to leave, and report their experience to a local civil rights council.]

"We weren't doing anything except for asking for pie and coffee from the cafe," Childs explained.

Their research helped the Fayetteville Community Relations Association change the hearts of owners enforcing segregation.

All while, Thompson's academic life was very much segregated. He said, "I couldn't eat in Bruff Commons or the dormitories. Blacks had to eat in the cafeteria there in the student union."

Everyday, Thompson walked more than two miles to campus. He lived in the basement of a white person's home.

Fast forward to 2018. The two are 75, and are continuing to fight for equal rights.

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