Ingrid Ban

Sit-Ins at Brady’s Restaurant 1963

(Bulkley, Joel. “Nine More ‘Picked Up’ Yesterday.” The Daily Tar Heel, December 17, 1963.)

Brady’s Restaurant, located on Durham Road, was an emblem of Chapel Hill’s rich history situated at the intersection of southern food, white supremacy, and the fight for desegregation and institutionalized equality. Brady’s opened its doors in 1936 and was notorious by neighbors for their “golden brown” fried chicken, swiss premium steaks, pork chops, barbeque chicken and homemade cornbread, all of which paid homage to the food traditions of the deep south.[1] While Brady’s Restaurant and the foods they served were intended to provide community members and students alike with a sense of nostalgia for their grandmother’s cooking, that warm southern welcome was not made available to everyone. In fact, in an era of Jim Crow Laws and The Civil Rights Movement, many establishments in Chapel Hill stirred up notions of segregation that resulted in unrest, sit-ins, and arrests throughout the town.

Although the United States Supreme Court outlawed segregation of public schools in 1954, it was not until 1955 that black students were admitted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[2] While the school was integrated, restaurant and store owners in the area were able to dictate whether they wanted to operate as segregated or not. Those restaurants that chose segregation served as prime spots for local protests. 

On December 17, 1963, The Daily Tar Heel published a front-page story about the 36 people who were arrested for sit-ins across a four-day span. Activists participating in the sit-ins were arrested on accounts of trespassing and resisting officers by “going limp when police tried to remove them.”[3] While these sit-ins occurred at several fine-dining restaurants across Chapel Hill including The Pines and Leo’s, a majority of the arrests took place at Brady’s Restaurant.[4] Out of the 36 arrested, 20 of the protestors including 13 blacks and 7 whites were arrested at Brady’s Restaurant on a Sunday night after they were denied service and refused to leave.

Some activists like Quinton Baker, who was the head of the youth program for the NAACP and one of the 13 blacks arrested and booked for the sit-in at Brady’s Restaurant, had high hopes for Chapel Hill to “be[come] the first town in the state to totally desegregate.” However, it took many more years and many more protests for Chapel Hill restaurants to welcome blacks and whites as equals.[5]  In Chapel Hill during the 1960s, the southern hospitality and food served in segregated restaurants like Brady’s acted as an agent of systematic discrimination that will be forever ingrained in the Chapel Hill food story.


Works Cited

[1] Brady’s Restaurant. “Brady’s Restaurant Now Open For Lunch Also.” Advertisement. The Daily Tar Heel (Chapel Hill), October 06, 1963.

[2] Barnes,  et al. “First Black Undergraduate Students.” The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History, 2006.–john-lewis-bran.

[3] Bulkley, Joel. “Nine More ‘Picked Up’ Yesterday.” The Daily Tar Heel, December 17, 1963.

[4] Ibid., 3

[5] Harkness, Peter. “CORE Hopes Chapel Hill To Be First In The State.” The Daily Tar Heel, December 18, 1963.