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A small vibrant steel promoting signal selling the Coon Chicken Inn in Seattle, Washington USA.

One historic hyperlink:


Coon Chicken Inn was an American chain of 4 eating places based by Maxon Lester Graham and Adelaide Burt in 1925,[1] which prospered till the late Nineteen Fifties. The restaurant chain was common of their day. The restaurant’s title (which makes use of an ethnic slur), emblems, and entrances of the eating places had been designed to appear to be a smiling blackface caricature of an African-American porter. The smiling capped porter head additionally appeared on menus, dishes, and promotional objects. Due to alter in common tradition and the final consideration of being culturally and racially offensive, the chain has since been discontinued and is now defunct.

The first Coon Chicken Inn was opened in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah in 1925. In 1929, one other restaurant was opened in then-suburban Lake City close to Seattle, Washington,[2] and a 3rd was opened within the Hollywood District of Portland, Oregon, in 1931. A fourth location was marketed however by no means opened in Spokane, Washington. Later, a cabaret, orchestra, and catering had been added to the Seattle and Salt Lake eating places.[3]

An commercial for the restaurant is proven within the 2004 mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America the place it’s depicted as being profitable in a fictional timeline the place the Confederacy defeats and annexes the United States in 1864 with the assistance of the United Kingdom and France.

A Coon Chicken Inn commercial additionally seems in Ghost World, a 2001 American comedy-drama movie directed by Terry Zwigoff.

Restaurant chain situated within the Pacific Northwest from the late Twenties via the late Forties. The chain was well-known for its ubiquitous ‘Coon’ brand, a caricatured African-American male rooted in nineteenth century minstrel theatre and early twentieth century promoting. The most distinguished manifestation of the Coon caricature was the 12-foot excessive ‘Coon head’ that served as the doorway to every restaurant location.

Maxon Lester Graham and his spouse Adelaide based the Coon Chicken Inn in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1925. The early success of this location prompted the opening of two extra chains in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington within the early Thirties. The patrons and staff of the Coon Chicken Inn chains had been predominantly white, although African-Americans had been employed to work within the kitchen of the Salt Lake City department.

Graham adopted the Coon caricature and created the ‘Coon head’ as a gimmick to draw prospects within the rising age of roadside eating places, novelty structure, and vehicle comfort. Graham moreover promoted the chain via the distribution of postcards, newspaper ads, matchboxes, kids’s followers, spare tire covers, and supply automobiles, all of which prominently featured the Coon Chicken Inn brand. The Coon brand saturated the eating places’ interiors as effectively. Plates, forks, menus, and placemats featured the caricature, as did menu objects such because the ‘Baby Coon Special’ and the ‘Coon Fried Steak.’

African Americans opposed this blatant show of racial hostility. In 1930, the Seattle department of the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) and Seattle’s African American newspaper The Northwest Enterprise protested the opening of the native Coon Chicken Inn by threatening Graham with a lawsuit for libel and defamation of race. In response, Graham agreed to alter the model of promoting by eradicating the phrase ‘Coon’ from the restaurant’s supply automotive, repainting the ‘Coon head’ entrance to the restaurant, and canceling an order of 1,000 vehicle tire covers. This small stride, nonetheless, was not sufficient to completely erase the picture of the caricature from Seattle. Graham violated his settlement with the NAACP however managed to evade the lawsuit by altering the colour of the Coon brand from black to blue.

Graham closed the Seattle and Portland places in 1949. The Coon Chicken Inn restaurant in Salt Lake City, nonetheless, remained open till 1957. It is remembered in the present day in movies similar to Ghost World and The Confederate States of America; relics of the Coon Chicken Inn are usually thought to be Black Memorabilia collectables.
Sources:;; Williams-Forson,Psyche A.Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006)

– See extra at:

In the early Thirties, Joseph Staton, an worker of The Northwest Enterprise, a distinguished African-American newspaper in Seattle, was arrested and booked in jail for vandalizing an vehicle parked on the nook of third and Yesler in Pioneer Square. In courtroom a number of days later, the choose requested to see a piece of a spare tire cowl that Staton had eliminated. When the courtroom attendants introduced it out, the choose laughed and remarked, “Well, I’ll just fine you three dollars and you go on home.”[1]

The picture that Staton faraway from the spare tire cowl featured the emblem of the Coon Chicken Inn, a fried rooster restaurant chain within the Northwest whose brand featured a ‘Coon’, or a racist caricature of an African-American male common in nineteenth century minstrel theatre and early twentieth century promoting. The Coon Chicken Inn’s ‘Coon’ wore a Porter’s uniform; its face featured a winking left eye and enlarged purple lips endlessly gaping to reveal the phrases ‘Coon Chicken Inn’ etched on the highest row of its shining white enamel.

To totally comprehend the importance of the CCI brand, you will need to step again and look at the historical past of the ‘Coon’ caricature itself. The time period coon emerged in early America as a shortening of raccoon and, in line with the Oxford English Dictionary, quickly grew to become synonymous with “a sly, knowing fellow,” and, subsequently, “a Negro.”[2] Though initially related to white ‘backcountry folk’, the shift in using coon from an expression describing a rustic rube to a derogatory time period for an African-American is related to the introduction and instantaneous success of the nineteenth century minstrel present character Zip Coon.[3]

Though not the primary blackface character within the minstrel custom, in line with cultural critic John Strausbaugh, Zip Coon grew to become the primary common minstrel character to symbolize the “black city dandy… a ‘negar’ who ‘acts white.”[4]. For whites who feared job competition once slavery ended, the Zip character served as a symbol of “the terror that lower-class whites had of being left at the bottom if ‘niggars’ like Zip obtained too uppity.”[5]. On stage, Zip Coon would act like a braggart and a idiot, eliciting laughter and fascination whereas reinforcing white supremacy and hostility towards African-Americans.

In the late nineteenth century, the Coon caricature was revised to suit the predilections of post-Civil War whites who, in line with historian Kenneth Goings, weren’t ready to “handle the status of African-Americans as free and technically equal.”[6] The Coon caricature grew to become a approach for each northerners and southerners to relive a nostalgic reminiscence of the Old South, one the place black slaves had been cared for by benevolent white masters and during which African-American males liked to sing, dance, and steal chickens. The origin of this chicken-thieving stereotype is unclear, however is probably going rooted in 18th and nineteenth century narratives and pictures and in the truth that slaves typically did steal chickens and livestock from masters as a type of protest or to enhance their meager meals rations.[7][8] After emancipation, the inclusion of such stereotypes and caricatures of African-Americans in collectibles and promoting grew to become an efficient approach for whites to bolster the parable of the Old South within the collective nationwide reminiscence.

The illustration of blacks as servile dependents flourished in American promoting and within the ‘trinket market’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Aunt Jemima, the character behind the ready-made pancake, was bought to a receptive American market in 1889 and along with her got here a proliferation of ads and collectables that includes the Mammy, the straightforward, ever-faithful slave girl who cooked, supervised different home slaves, watched the kids, and accomplished numerous extra duties. ‘Uncle Tom’, initially a personality in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, grew to become one other common stereotype who, like Mammy, submissively and contentedly served the ‘massa’. Sambo, Jim Crow, Pickaninny, and Jezebel are additional examples of black stereotypes used to promote something from cleaning soap to tobacco and who appeared as objects as various as rag dolls and salt and pepper shakers. And after all, the Coon remained an ever-popular stereotype distinguished all through the United States. Coon Cards, or minstrel-themed postcards, grew to become a longtime type of communication with captions like “The Evolution of a Coon,” “Golly, see dem chickens fly! Dey know a nigger’s goin’ by” and “A Home Run with a Chicken in His Pants.”[9] Like the minstrel reveals, these playing cards depicted blacks with “exaggerated and animal-like features … thick lips, kinky hair, flat noses, big ears, and big feet.”[10]

The incontrovertible fact that the Coon Chicken Inn opened its doorways 100 years after Zip Coon first danced throughout the stage to the delight of white working-class audiences serves not solely as a testomony to the ability of the Coon picture, but in addition to enduring racial tensions within the Pacific Northwest within the early twentieth century. The restaurant was based in Utah in 1925 by Maxon Lester Graham. According to a short historic account written by Graham’s grandson and revealed on the web site of Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Lester Graham and his spouse Adelaide obtained into the fried rooster enterprise after spending many Sundays driving to a small city south of Salt Lake City to eat at a restaurant that served “excellent chicken.” Deciding that fried rooster would do effectively in suburbia, they constructed a small restaurant within the Salt Lake suburb of Sugar House. The enterprise instantly gained recognition. However, in July of 1927, the restaurant caught fireplace and burnt to the bottom. In a big publicity stunt, Graham rebuilt the Coon Chicken Inn in 10 days. Four years later, two extra roadside Coon Chicken Inns opened in Portland and Seattle and a fourth department would ultimately open in Spokane, Washington.[11] The huge Coon head served because the entryway to all 4 of the eating places. The chain flourished for practically 20 years till Graham closed the branches within the late Forties. Though Graham by no means revealed what impressed him to make use of the Coon caricature because the gimmick for his fried rooster restaurant, the prevalent stereotype of African-Americans as rooster lovers proved to be identifiable and marketable sufficient to draw white customers who noticed the picture as comedic, not merciless. The title related African-Americans and their ‘favorite dish,’ implicitly signifying that the rooster was genuine and prime quality, even for the ‘Coon’.

In Seattle, the twelve-foot grinning Coon head erected in plain view of the more and more lively Bothell Highway served as a reminder of racial segregation within the metropolis and the encompassing space. The twentieth century migration of blacks to the Northwest left many white Seattleites cautious of the altering racial panorama of town. Racial restrictive covenants – housing restrictions that prevented nonwhites from shopping for or renting houses in most Seattle neighborhoods – took root within the Twenties as a response to this black migration. For instance, a Lake City covenant masking property close to the Bothell Highway from 1930 reads:

“Said lot or lots shall not be sold, conveyed, or rented nor leased, in whole or in part, to any person not of the White race; nor shall any person not of the White race be permitted to occupy any portion of said lot or lots or of any building thereon, except a domestic servant actually employed by a White occupant of such building.”[12]

Consequently, by 1930 the vast majority of African-Americans had been concentrated within the space later often called the Central District—situated 8 miles from the Coon Chicken Inn.

Though Lake City remained exterior of the Seattle metropolis limits till 1954, the Old Bothell Highway performed a job in setting Seattle’s racial panorama from the early twentieth century. The space gained township standing in 1949 after a flood of households flocked to the suburbs after World War II. Lake City’s improvement was at all times depending on the car; in 1911, King County improved the Bothell Highway, an previous logging street, by paving it with Warrenite. An unincorporated space of King County simply accessible by vehicle, the Old Bothell Highway proved to be a chief location for roadside eating places. As early as 1919, southern and minstrel-themed fried rooster eating places had been attracting Seattleites who, in line with Hattie Graham Horrocks’ information to Seattle eating places, “wished to drive out-of-town for the occasional dinner.” My Southern Inn, renown for “frying chicken in the window in plain sight of passersby,” grew to become one of many first, quickly adopted in 1921 by Bob’s Place and in 1923 by Mammy’s Shack.[13] Though historian John A. Jakle argues that almost all roadside eating places facades had been “quite utilitarian,” a number of, just like the CCI, embraced a extra fanciful, programmatic architectural design. Like the landmark Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles or the Teapot Dome Service Station in Zillah, Washington, programmatic, or novelty structure aimed to “arrest the attention of the speeding public” by erecting unconventional constructions.

Once located on the Old Bothell Highway, Lester Graham vigorously promoted the brand new restaurant. On August thirty first, 1930, an commercial for the CCI took up nearly a full web page within the Seattle Times.[15] Under the heading Coon Chicken Inn Opened in Seattle, the web page featured the brief columns, “Coon Chicken? Ask Anyone Who Came From South,” which outlined ‘coon’ rooster as “the way the fowl is cooked by the real, old-fashioned Mammy;” “Highway Resort is One of Huge National Chain” (although presently solely the Salt Lake location existed); “Inn is Built From Local Materials;" “Utah Folk are Champions of Fried Chicken;” “Telephone Will Bring Chicken to Your Home;” and “Parking Space is Provided at Inn for 500 Autos.” The web page additionally included a big commercial for the CCI, full with this description of the restaurant:

“The best fried chicken you ever tasted! That’s a mighty strong statement, but you’ll agree after visiting Seattle’s newest, most unique eating place that it’s a mighty true one. Coon Chicken Inn brings to Seattle and the Northwest a nationally-famous method of cookery, and provides a novel, pleasing restaurant at which you’ll enjoy eating. Good food served in a cheerful atmosphere! A service that will fit in with your every plan—party, after-theatre affair, or the wish for a splendid meal! Throughout America our splendid foods have pleased the most discriminating palates. Coon Chicken Inn is not ‘just another restaurant’—it is an innovation providing a pleasurable change from the ordinary café—a new eating place whose cuisine is considered in a class by itself, head and shoulders above the average.”

The commercial makes no point out of African Americans, a conspicuous silence contemplating the eating places brand and structure and one which speaks to simply how uncontroversial the Coon picture was for many Seattleites. Of course, for African Americans, the imagery was sufficient to announce the North End’s hostility in direction of blacks and let all races know who was and who was not welcome. {A photograph} of the newly opened CCI constructing displayed the gaping-mouthed Coon-head entrance with its giant purple lips, winking eye, and porter’s hat sitting atop a bald, black head. On August thirty first, The Seattle Times supplied the publicity the restaurant wanted to point out off its “uniqueness” to all Seattle—black and white communities alike. Though the edifice of the CCI stood in North Seattle, the picture of the Coon manifested itself in locations past the restrictive covenant strains; it infiltrated areas of Seattle the place the Coon picture didn’t resonate with residents.

Though the black inhabitants was predominantly restricted to the Central District space, the CCI paraded its brand on public and moveable areas, inundating African-Americans with the offensive Coon caricature. The Seattle Times advert was only one type of invasive promoting employed by the CCI. Another kind manifested itself any time a buyer ordered rooster for supply. Orders had been crammed by a deliveryman driving the ‘Coon Car’, which introduced “piping hot, crisp, delicious” rooster to “any part of the city—and right quickly too.” Plastered with the CCI brand, the ‘Coon Car’ allowed the racist imagery to infiltrate “any part of the city” from “10 o’clock in the morning till 2 o’clock the next.”[16]

But essentially the most racially charged type of promoting lay within the spare tire cowl. In the early years of the CCI, Graham ordered greater than 1,000 vehicle spare tire covers that prominently featured the restaurant’s Coon brand.[17] Consumers positioned the covers over the spare tire on the again of their autos. In displaying these covers, the buyer marketed the CCI and implicitly claimed an affinity with the blatant racial hostility and worry that the picture represented.

Though the CCI ads served up a continuing reminder of the place of black individuals in Seattle’s racial panorama, African-Americans didn’t take this exhibition of racial hostility mendacity down. Like reactions to different “little nasties,” which historian Quintard Taylor identifies because the casually bigoted habits that typified racism in Seattle, black Seattleites objected vigorously. During the early years of the CCI, African-Americans protested on each particular person and group ranges, using exceptional vigilance and willpower to struggle again towards the grossly offensive Coon picture.[18]

Joseph Staton was amongst those that took particular person motion towards the CCI on a small-scale. In an oral historical past interview recorded by Ester Mumford in 1975, Staton relayed the story of his arrest within the Thirties for slicing the Coon picture out of a CCI spare tire cowl. Staton and 4 mates created what Staton known as a “contest”: every good friend put in 50 cents and whomever reduce essentially the most Coon faces out of tire covers after thirty days would win the pot. W. H. Wilson, the editor of the Northwest Enterprise and Staton’s employer, would lend Staton his vehicle for work; in the future whereas borrowing Wilson’s automotive and driving downtown along with his mates, Staton watched one in every of his mates hop out of the automotive and reduce out the Coon brand on a CCI tire cowl as a part of the competition. The vehicle proprietor famous the license of Wilson’s automotive and the police traced the prank again to Joseph Staton, who was subsequently arrested, booked, and fined the three {dollars}.[19]

In an one other act of protest, The NAACP and The Northwest Enterprise teamed up in a two-year battle with Lester Graham over the CCI’s Coon brand. The first signal of the battle appeared in a column posted within the Enterprise on September 18, 1930—not a month after Seattleites had been greeted by the image of the Coon in The Seattle Times. The article, headlined “Citizens Protest Against ‘Coon’ Chicken Inn,” knowledgeable the predominantly African-American readership that Clarence R. Anderson, a black lawyer, William H. Wilson, the editor of the Northwest Enterprise and president of the Seattle NAACP, and Horace R. Cayton, an NAACP member and long-standing civil rights advocate, collectively filed a criticism towards the CCI over its promoting. The three activists demanded that the corporate change its methodology of promoting “or be charged with libel and defamation of a race.”[20] Similar to a 1930 lawsuit filed by the Seattle NAACP towards the native packaging plant, Fresh Products Inc., whose peanut product, ‘Three Little Niggers’, displayed “three colored children standing in a peanut shell,”[21] the NAACP/NW Enterprise protest towards the CCI took form in a formidable authorized framework that boldly challenged the derogatory illustration of blacks in promoting. A observe up column within the Enterprise on September twenty fifth claimed victory on the aspect of the protesters. It said that Graham agreed to alter the model of promoting by eradicating the phrase ‘Coon’ from the ‘Coon Car’, repainting the entrance of the CCI, and canceling an order of the 1,000 vehicle tire covers.[22]

It proved a considerably hole victory, nonetheless. In 1931 The NW Enterprise reported on a protest filed by W. H. Wilson towards the CCI for violating its earlier settlement to “discontinue the distribution of offensive tire covers.” Despite this, the column did word a hit: the repainting of the CCI door brand from black to purple.[23] This small stride, nonetheless, was not sufficient to completely erase the picture of the Coon from Seattle. Not solely did Graham declare the restaurant title to be copyrighted and due to this fact unchangeable, he managed to evade the lawsuit altogether by merely altering the colour of the Coon brand. The remaining column within the NW Enterprise reads as follows:

“Chicken Inn Dodges Suit with Blue Paint: Threatened with prosecution by the Seattle NAACP who charged them with advertising defamatory to colored people the ‘CCI’ is avoiding the charge by changing the black background of their advertising to blue… Miss Codetis Thiel, assistant prosecutor held the owners of the chicken inn were subject to prosecution if they used a black face labeled ‘coon’ in their advertising. The Company has now dodged prosecution by using a blue color in their advertising and [removing] the word ‘coon’ from the teeth of the man’s mouth”[24]

Although their campaigns had been unsuccessful, each Joseph Staton’s ‘contest’ and the NAACP/NW Enterprise’s joint protest towards the CCI are spectacular demonstrations of black company in Seattle, they usually garnered some assist from white authorities. The African-American inhabitants, whereas nonetheless solely .9 % of Seattle’s inhabitants in 1930 and 1 % in 1940, established itself as a combating power for equality within the first half of the century.[25] Nevertheless, whatever the battles waged by the black group, the racial hostility of whites in Seattle reigned all through the Thirties, holding the picture of the Coon alive and the CCI in enterprise.

It is fascinating to notice that the CCI opened its doorways within the midst of the Great Depression, but the restaurant not solely endured all through the Depression’s worst years—it thrived. Whites didn’t appear to seek out the Coon brand problematic within the least. Indeed, whereas overt hostility towards African-Americans was not unusual, the dominant angle of white Seattleites towards proof of racism and campaigns for equality was merely apathy. In this fashion, the Coon Chicken Inn served as a beacon of white bigotry within the North End and tapped deep into the race and class-consciousness of Seattleites, bringing to mild the truth of white and black relations of the day.

On the Old Bothell Highway, the Coon-head gimmick definitely managed to draw the eye of passersby, however the query arises of who truly frequented the restaurant. In trying again on the Seattle Times’ August 1930 commercial for the not too long ago opened CCI, one wonders whom Lester Graham envisioned as the everyday clientele. Roadside-restaurants, in line with Jakle, aimed to draw extra “affluent customers motoring out for pleasure from cities and towns,” in search of “dining experiences removed from the ordinary.”[26] The Seattle Times commercial did, as Jakle contends, cater to white center and higher class prospects with “discriminating palate[s]” and sufficient cash to frequent the theatre, host events (full with fried rooster), and admire a delicacies “in a class by itself.” Its presence within the Seattle Times, a paper with citywide distribution, additionally suggests Graham was reaching out to many various white neighborhoods in Seattle.[27]

But whereas the CCI tried to color itself as a restaurant “head and shoulders above the average,” the actual composition of the clientele stays in query. Paul de Barros describes the CCI as an area faculty hangout the place college students went to listen to dwell music at Club Cotton, a venue in a position to accommodate greater than 250 folks that opened in 1934, situated across the nook and down the steps from the CCI.[28] Hattie Horrock additionally mentions the CCI as being highly regarded, particularly with younger individuals.[29] At least one group of faculty college students went there: a menu present in a school scrapbook that belonged to a lady who graduated from the University of Washington in 1945 has the phrases, “Barn Dances, Chicken Dinners, Fun” scribbled on its inside.[30]

Born in February 1930, simply months earlier than the CCI opened its doorways, Seattle native Jean Stewart recollects rising up a mere three blocks south of the CCI. She describes the restaurant as a “lower class place” and one that might have been “racy” to go to.[31] Stewart grew up in a newly developed neighborhood, her home in-built 1928 along with her father being the unique proprietor. The neighborhood was higher center class, even via the Depression years, and Stewart provides that it was “extremely class conscious.” Drawing a really distinct line between Lake City and her personal neighborhood, Stewart describes why her household by no means talked about consuming on the CCI in the event that they did go:

“You didn’t go up there. You went to the University District. Pretty racy to go there … we didn’t go there often because it was a lower class place. It was simply people who … you see, we were very class conscious … you never took a step down, particularly with my German grandfather. It was very tight, very uncomfortable living … the pressure of all these small things was just too much. You always had to be proper, trying harder … it was very structured.”[32]

Whether or not Stewart was merely ultra-sensitive to the social strata, her description of the CCI makes one factor abundantly clear: discussing the offensiveness of the Coon brand appeared a low precedence when evaluating it to white class points.

This indifference to the racist nature of the CCI in favor of sophistication issues turns into much more evident when one considers a joint labor protest towards the CCI by the Bartenders, Cooks, Waiters, and Waitresses Union (BCWW) and the Musicians Union that came about in March of 1937. The unions picketed the CCI for per week, protesting towards the unfair therapy of organized labor and demanding that the CCI be fully unionized. On March 18th, E. B. Fish, the labor counsel for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce labor relations division; Jack Weinberger, the worldwide consultant of the BCWW; and Lester Graham signed the usual settlement of the unions.[33] The Times report of the settlement makes no point out of the bigoted brand. {A photograph} of the protest, revealed within the Seattle Post Intelligencer with the caption, “Big Crowd, Little Profit,” captures a big crowd of white males standing in entrance of the enormous Coon head. The males are holding picketing indicators with the phrase “Unfair” written in daring whereas the Coon-head winks within the background, as if covertly speaking that he understands the irony of this {photograph}.[34]

These demonstrations of apathy and indifference in direction of the racial dimension of the CCI depart the query of why it appeared to resonate with Seattleites for 20 years. The Coon picture appeared on each dish, silverware, menu, matchbox (the picture even appeared on the matchsticks), and youngsters ‘fans’ produced for the restaurant. The big Coon face greeted prospects as they entered the restaurant, spat them out after they left, or simply gaped with its big purple lips at motorists on the Old Bothell Highway. Inside the restaurant, patrons had been welcome to devour the “Southern Fried Coon Chicken”, the “Baby Coon Special” (full with crisp French fries, scorching buttered Parkerhouse Rolls, an olive, and a pickle), or the “Coon Fried Steak.”[35] Down the street, one might go to the Associated Poultry Co., which proudly marketed its position in supplying the CCI (the poultry retailer was conveniently owned by Graham).[36] Or, one was welcome to frequent Club Cotton and dance subsequent to a Coon cutout whereas listening to the all-white Johnny Maxon’s Orchestra.[37]

The abundance of Coon-related imagery—from ingesting glasses to fried rooster specials to matchsticks—was however one other manifestation of the racism that bolstered white supremacy in an more and more various and modernizing metropolis. Although absolutely the success of The CCI is attributable to extra than simply the memorable brand, the picture was a blatantly seen declaration of bigotry in North Seattle—in its personal inimitable approach, it echoed the restrictive covenants and different discriminatory measures within the wink of its twinkling black eye. The historic Coon picture was revived and, not surprisingly, tailored to suit the wants of the group it served: the Coon of the CCI was each the dandy and the rooster lover, however this specific Coon took on a brand new attribute. He was effectively behaved and content material to be servile. This Coon was not stealing chickens or merely lazing about, and though he wearing good clothes very similar to a dandy, the CCI Coon was a waiter via and thru. Ironically, no blacks had been ever employed on the CCI.[38] This illustration of blacks being contented of their place in society reveals the deep-seated worry of upheaval and alter that helped gasoline the event and recognition of the CCI brand, which in flip reaffirmed the prevailing racial discrimination and bigotry.

Though the CCI doesn’t seem in newspapers within the Forties, the restaurant continued on the Old Bothell Highway till late 1949, when Lester Graham eliminated the Coon head from public view and closed the restaurant’s doorways. But neither Graham nor the CCI disappeared from Seattle fully. In December 1949, the Lake City Citizen featured an commercial for the newly opened G.I. Joe’s New Country Store, giving its location because the previous Coon Chicken Inn constructing (Lester Graham owned the Country Store).[39] This commercial demonstrates that even after the CCI closed, the Coon-face remained a landmark for years to return. As there is no such thing as a proof that Graham closed the CCI as a result of protests or objections to the title, brand, or methodology of promoting, one can solely speculate the rationale the CCI’s days ended.

The coming of World War II in Seattle introduced with it a surge of African-American migration, growing the black inhabitants in Seattle from 3,789 to fifteen,666, or 413 % between 1940 and 1950.[40] Finding restricted employment alternatives at such corporations as Boeing and experiencing blatant acts of discrimination, many African-Americans campaigned for equal employment and desegregation. In 1949, the Fair Employment Practices legislation was handed and in 1948, racial restrictive covenants had been declared not enforceable by the United States Supreme Court. Perhaps this modification within the racial panorama of Seattle and the nation made hostile pictures just like the Coon more and more unpopular. Another risk is that the migration of younger white households to Lake City after World War II affected the out-of-town eating expertise that early CCI prospects appear to have discovered interesting within the CCI. Perhaps it’s a mixture of those elements. As town progressed and expanded, Graham could have discovered the G.I. Joe’s Country Store to be a extra fashionable and worthwhile enterprise than the chicken-restaurant enterprise.

Today the unique CCI constructing is gone. Ying’s Drive Inn, a Chinese restaurant close to 18th NE and NE eighty fifth Street, sits on the piece of land the place the Coon-head as soon as grinned, the place the Baby Coon Special was served, and the place the Johnny Maxon Orchestra as soon as performed to enthusiastic all-white audiences. Though it’s gone, the Coon Chicken Inn shouldn’t be forgotten. It presents a window into understanding the racial local weather of Seattle in the course of the Thirties and Forties; the recognition of its caricatured brand helps us make sense of the white hostility and oppression harbored towards African-Americans in addition to permits us to see how African-Americans reacted defiantly to that oppression. Furthermore, the Coon Chicken Inn is a technique to measure the progress Seattle has revamped the previous sixty years by way of racial equality—and to ascertain the progress but to be made.

Copyright (c) Catherine Roth 2009
HSTAA 498 Fall 2008

[1]MacIntosh, Heather. "Staton, Joseph Isom: An Oral History." HistoryHyperlink. 4 Nov. 2008

[2] Oxford English Dictionary

[3] Strausbaugh, John. Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture (New York: Penguin, 2006). An alternate clarification for the origin of the time period “coon” comes out of the transatlantic slave commerce. As captured Africans awaited loading onto the slave ships that carried them on the Middle Passage to Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America they had been held in makeshift pens referred to as “barracoons.”

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid, 95

[6] Goings, Kenneth W. Mammy and Uncle Mose: Black Collectibles and American Stereotyping (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994).

[7] Williams-Forson, Psyche A. Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 48

[8] Ibid

[9] “‘Coon Cards’: Racist Postcards Have Become Collectors’ Items,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 25 (Autumn 1999), 72.

[10] Ibid.

[11] "Coon Chicken Inn Opened in Seattle," The Seattle Times, 31 Aug. 1930: 13.

[12] “Restrictive Covenant Database.” The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project. Last accessed 7 Dec. 2008

[13] Horrocks, Mrs. Hattie Graham, Restaurants of Seattle, 1853-1960

[14] Soda Fountain Magazine, as quoted in John A. Jakle, Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants within the Automobile Age (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2002), 44.

[15] "Coon Chicken Inn Opened in Seattle," The Seattle Times 31 Aug. 1930: 13.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Davidson English, Arline, "Coon Chicken Inn to Change Advertising," Northwest Enterprise 25 Sep. 1930: 8.

[18] Taylor, Quintard, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 via the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994), 81

[19] Staton Interview.

[20] Davidson English, Arline, "Citizens Protest Against ‘Coon’ Chicken Inn," Northwest Enterprise 18 Sep. 1930: 8.

[21] Taylor, Forging, 80; NW Enterprise December 11, 1930

[22] The NW Enterprise, Sep. 25, 1930

[23] McIver, Sadie, “Files Protest Against ‘Coon Chicken’ Advertisement,” Northwest Enterprise July 16, 1931: 8.

[24] Black, Candace, "Chicken Inn Dodges Suit with Blue Paint," Northwest Enterprise 17 Mar. 1932: 6.
[25] Taylor, Forging, Appendix.

[26] Jakle, Fast Food, 49.

[27] Advertisement, The Seattle Times, August 1930.

[28] Club Cotton Advertisement in possession of the Shoreline Historical Museum.

[29] Horrocks, 50

[30] Menu in possession of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project

[31] Personal Interview with Jean Stewart, Nov. 8, 2008.

[32] Stewart Interview.
[33] "C. of C. Helps to End Dispute," The Seattle Times 18 Mar. 1937.

[34] "Big Crowd – Little Profit!" Seattle Post-Intelligencer 8 Mar. 1937.

[35] Menu in possession of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.

[36] Photograph of the Associated Poultry Co. in possession of the Shoreline Historical Museum.

[37] De Barros, Paul. Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1993).

[38] Stewart Interview; "Big Crowd – Little Profit!"

[39] “Joe’s Country Store,” Lake City Citizen, December 8, 1949

[40] Taylor, Forging, 136.

Manif nue 7 Juin 2012 – Montréal
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