Safeway Jim Crow: 1935-41
Sanitary Grocery Stores were a District of Columbia grocery store chain that was purchased by Safeway in 1928, but continued to operate under the Sanitary banner until 1940.

Sanitary was run as a white supremacist enterprise. African Americans were barred from front-line clerk positions that would bring them into contact with the public and warehouse and other ancillary operations were run Jim Crow with separate bathrooms and eating areas for African Americans and whites.

Efforts to break down Jim Crow were undertaken inside and outside the store’s facilities.

Teamsters Local 730, representing warehouse workers in the greater Washington, D.C. area was birthed at Sanitary’s bakery warehouse by an African American employee, John H. Cleveland in 1937.

Picketing and a boycott of Sanitary Stores by the New Negro Alliance resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1937 upholding the right to conduct such activities in an attempt to influence employment practices.

This ruling preserved those tools for civil rights activists through the years. The 1964 Civil Rights Act ultimately ended legal discrimination in employment, but many victories were won in the interim years because of the ruling at Sanitary.
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