Party of Guinean President Visited Triangle, 1958

President and Mrs. Touré (far left and right) have dinner with Governor Luther Hodges (center right) in Chapel Hill. A French interpreter (center left) is also pictured. Image from Ebony Magazine.

On October 28, 1958, Guinean President Sékou Touré visited the Triangle on a two-week tour of the United States.

Touré specifically asked the State Department to show him the South as part of his official visit, and North Carolina was selected as Touré’s only stop in the region after hotels in downtown Atlanta indicated they would not serve the African party.

The Tourés’ visit featured on the cover of February 1960’s Ebony Magazine. Image from Ebony Magazine.Though he was in the Triangle for just under 24 hours, Touré made the most of the time in the area, attending a dinner hosted by Governor Luther Hodges at the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, having lunch with Duke University officials and visiting what’s now N.C. Central University.

He and his party also toured the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, then the world’s largest black-owned business, and were the first black guests to stay at the Carolina Inn.

Over the objections of some of their staffers, Governor Hodges and First Lady Martha Blakeney Hodges put an emphasis on warmly receiving Touré. The couple met Touré and his group at the airport on their arrival from Washington, D.C., and put the governor’s official vehicles at their disposal. The meal Hodges hosted in Chapel Hill is also cited by at least one source as likely the first integrated official dinner in the South since Reconstruction.

After leaving North Carolina, Touré made stops in Chicago and Los Angeles before returning to Africa.

For more on Touré’s visit, check out this article that appeared in a February 1960 issue of Ebony Magazine.

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