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Activist and reporter Frederick C. Weaver: 1934 | by Washington Area Spark
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Activist and reporter Frederick C. Weaver: 1934

Frederick C. Weaver was an activist reporter for the Washington Afro American who covered and participated in the effort to end Jim Crow in the U.S. Capitol in 1934.

 

Weaver was also a student at Howard University at the time and was one of the leaders, along with Harold Covington and Kenneth Clark, in organizing 30 Howard students to go to the Capitol building to confront Jim Crow.

 

Prior to the demonstration he defied Jim Crow by entering the House of Representatives public restaurant, sitting down at a table, ordering soup and being served by waiter Harold Covington who was also a fellow student.

 

The demonstrations were part of a larger campaign at the restaurants that marked the first organized, sustained sit-in in the Washington, D.C. area and perhaps the nation.

 

After a number of interracial parties attempted to gain service at the House public restaurant, manager Patrick Johnson posted a sign that said “Members Only.”

 

When asked by Afro reporter Weaver why he would post signs and then allow persons other than members to enter, Johnson responded:

 

“That rule is enforced at our discretion, but we don’t intend to let no n_______s eat in there if that’s what you want to know, and I hope, God damn it, you don’t like it; it would suit me fine.”

 

A waiter, Harold Covington, hearing the commotion, asked what was going on and when told said:

 

“Come on in here. I will serve you and I wish he would fire me for doing it.”

 

After being seated and served, Weaver’s exchange with restaurant manager Johnson went as follows:

 

Johnson: Didn’t you see that sign on the outside?

 

Weaver: Yes, but didn’t you tell me that it was public for everyone except n______s?

 

Johnson: I certainly did, and why did you come in here?

 

Weaver: Because I am not a n_______r.

 

Police officer: All right, let’s go. You’re just looking for trouble. This man is manager of this place and if he don’t want you in here you can’t come in, that’s all. Let’s go.

 

Covington was fired from his job because of this incident and Weaver would help organize the Howard students for the demonstration.

 

Following the unsuccessful attempt to enter the House and Senate restaurants (they were blocked by a line of police), the students left the Capitol and went to the a police station to bail out Covington who had been arrested.

 

Weaver and three others were arrested, but charges were dropped by the police captain who also destroyed the arrest records.

 

Weaver was targeted by the Howard University administration as a leader of the protest and was charged with duping the students into participating with offers of taxi rides and meals at a fancy restaurant.

 

However the faculty disciplinary committee headed by Ralph Bunche exonerated the students. Bunche argued they should be given medals, not discipline.

 

Weaver went on to write for the Washington Tribune and start his own advertising agency in New York City.

 

For a detailed blog post on the fight to end Jim Crow in the U.S. Capitol public restaurants, see washingtonspark.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/origins-of-the-c...

 

For images related to the fight to end Jim Crow in the U.S. Capitol public restaurants, see flic.kr/s/aHsmcArGZz

 

The photographer is unknown. The image was published in the March 24, 1934 Afro American.

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Taken on March 17, 1934