Rep. Aswell establishes Jim Crow in House restaurant: 1921
James B. Aswell began career as a teacher in country schools and high schools In Louisiana rising to president of Louisiana Tech University and later election as superintendent of state education.
After running unsuccessfully for governor in 1911, he was elected to the U.S. House in 1912. Aswell was reelected nine times.
He was a strong opponent of Republican President Hoover, whom many Democrats blamed for the Great Depression, which had barely begun when Aswell died.
Aswell’s opposition was also due to Hoover’s alleged dance with the African American member of the Republican National Committee, Mary Booze.
While in Washington, D.C. in December 1921, Rep. Aswell (D-La.) wrote a letter to the chairman of the Accounts Committee, Clifford Ireland (R-Il.) that had recently been given oversight of the House of Representatives public restaurant, protesting the seating of African Americans.
The New York Times reported that Aswell observed “four negroes eating in the restaurant the last few days” and demanded to know under whose authority they were admitted. The letter said in part:
Is this to be the practice of your committee under the present administration? Gentlemen of the House should have this information now so they may know whether to keep their families, friends and themselves away.
Aswell was given assurances that henceforth “the restaurant would be restricted to whites-only,” according to the Times.
The Senate had already imposed Jim Crow on their restaurant in 1917 and this completed the complete segregation of the Capitol building in 1921.
For a detailed blog post on Jim Crow in the U.S. Capitol restaurants, see washingtonspark.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/origins-of-the-c...
For related images, see flic.kr/s/aHsmcArGZz
The photographer is unknown. The image is a National Photo Company photograph dated 1918-20 courtesy of the Library of Congress. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-npcc-00613 (digital file from original)