This article published on January 6, 1964, in the Chicago Daily Defender describes an event where a group of civil rights workers was assaulted in a grocery store by the store’s owner. The individuals were participating in a sit-in protest at the grocery store when the store’s owner attacked them. Carlton Mize, the owner of the grocery store, doused them with ammonia resulting in skin and eye burns. [1] Although they were the ones who were assaulted, the demonstrators decided against a warrant being sworn for Mize’s arrest. [1] The same individuals were also charged with trespassing and resisting arrest which is an interesting point to note considering they were the victims of an acid attack. [1]

To understand why civil rights workers were participating in a sit-in demonstration at a grocery store in Chapel Hill, the context of the situation has to be understood. During the period of time, Jim Crow Laws were in effect and included laws such as black people having to eat in a separate section of a restaurant amongst other acts. [2] During the period, in 1960, a group of black college students participated in a sit-in at the segregated lunch counter of a Woolworth’s department store in Greensboro, North Carolina. [3] This not only brought media attention to the civil rights’ movement, but it also led to the birth of the nonviolent sit-in protest. In the years after 1960, sit-in protests took place at different food establishments in Chapel Hill. There was a sit-in that took place in 1963 at Brady’s Restaurant before the incident in this article. [4] These demonstrations often took place in food establishments as a way of resisting segregation in the private sector. [5] The non-violent sit-in technique of the demonstrators were successful as the public saw the righteousness of their cause while the demonstrators were insulted and, often, assaulted which could have explained its’ occurrence in Chapel Hill’s food establishments. [6]

This article is crucial to understanding the link between food and the civil rights’ movement during the Politics, Protest and Food period as it shows how political issues affected the food and beverage industry in Chapel Hill. There are also some questions that result from this article. It is necessary to consider whether there was a particular group that would organize these sit-ins in Chapel Hill. Also, whether the store owner, Carlton Mize, was eventually charged for his actions. The reasoning behind the civil rights’ workers deciding against a warrant being sworn for the arrest of the store owner and the point at which segregation within food establishments ended in Chapel Hill should also be determined. These are essential questions that need to be answered to best understand the impact of the sit-in technique as well as the repercussions for both parties during the aftermath of these sit-in protests in Chapel Hill.

[1] “18 Acid-Doused Sit-Ins Jailed.” Chicago Daily Defender (Daily Edition), 6 Jan. 1964, pp. 9–9.

[2] “Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation.” Social Welfare History Project, 15 Aug. 2018,

[3] “The Civil Rights Movement 1960-1980.” Andrew Carnegie Wealth June 1889 < 1876-1900 < Documents < American History From Revolution To Reconstruction and Beyond,

[4] “19 In Cafe Jailed; Only Beginning,’ Says CORE.” New Journal and Guide(Norfolk, VA), December 21, 1963.

[5] “Greensboro Sit-In.” North Carolina History Project. Accessed November 08, 2018.

[6] “The Sit-In Movement.” Accessed November 08, 2018.

— Marcus Tan

“18 Acid-Doused Sit-Ins Jailed.” Chicago Daily Defender (Daily Edition), 6 Jan. 1964, pp. 9–9.