FOREIGN RELATIONS: From Segregation to Breakfast

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Two Negroes dressed in business suits strolled into a Howard Johnson restaurant near Dover, Del. one evening last week, went up to the counter and ordered two 30¢ glasses of orange juice. As they were handed the juice in containers, wrapped up to take outside, a waitress explained that they could not sit down inside because "colored people are not allowed to eat in here."

At this point one of the Negroes protested to the manager, produced an identity card to introduce himself as Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Finance Minister of the new 'African nation of Ghana; his companion was his U.S. Negro secretary. But the manager explained that rules were rules and Gbedemah and secretary paid for their orange juice, left it on the counter and walked out. "If the Vice President of the U.S. can have a meal in my house when he is in Ghana," said Gbedemah, who had entertained Vice President Nixon during his tour of Africa last spring, "then I cannot understand why I must receive this treatment at a roadside restaurant in America."

The U.S. Government was chagrined.

Hurriedly, the State Department put out an official apology. Wilson Flake, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, forestalled an official protest to Washington from the Ghana government by making a public statement that this was "an exceptional and isolated incident." President Eisenhower invited Gbedemah to breakfast with him and Vice President Nixon at the White House, put on an Eisenhower tour of the historic White House first floor, explained frankly that "little bits like that happen all over the place and you never know when they'll blow up or where."

By week's end the U.S. had not only won back but gained ground in Ghana—and in Delaware. "I hope," said Minister Gbedemah as he flew home, "that the people of Ghana understand that there are very few people in the U.S. who act that way." And the restaurant manager got word from the Howard Johnson people that he must, henceforth, serve "anybody who comes to our doors"—quite an order for segregation-minded Dover, Del.