African Diplomat Denied Service in Raleigh, 1963

A story in The Technician covering the Brooks-Lowenstein incident. Image from NCSU Libraries.

On April 30, 1963, Angie Brooks and Allard Lowenstein attempted to have lunch together at two restaurants in downtown Raleigh but were denied service because Brooks was African.

Brooks, Liberia’s United Nations ambassador and a Shaw University graduate, was in Raleigh to deliver a speech at N.C. State University. After the speech, Allard Lowenstein, then a professor at the university, invited the ambassador to lunch.

Angie Brooks when she was president of the United Nations General Assembly.The pair, with a few students in tow, visited the S & W Cafeteria and Sir Walter Coffee Shop in downtown Raleigh. Despite her diplomatic credentials, Brooks was refused service at both establishments. In fact, the manager at the coffee shop went so far as to say that he would not serve Brooks, but could offer her a job as a cook or a waitress.

Angie Brooks when she was president of the United Nations General Assembly.The press was on hand to report the story. The incident brought national attention to North Carolina, and Gov. Terry Sanford issued an apology to Brooks on behalf of the state. Since Lowenstein chose restaurants that were frequented by state officials, many believed he was an agitator who wanted to stir up controversy. Although he was aware that the establishments were segregated, he denied staging the event.

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