Boycotts, Marc’s Big Boy Restaurant

Marc's Big Boy picket. Courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society. Image ID: 83435

Marc’s Big Boy picket. Courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society. Image ID: 83435

In 1963, the Milwaukee NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Council began its first major direct action campaign against Marc’s Big Boy Restaurant. The Youth Council had received a complaint from a young man claiming that the restaurant discriminated against black job applicants. In March, the Youth Council and its advisor, John Givens, sent the young man to apply once more for a job at the restaurant. Immediately after him, they sent a white young man to apply for the same position. The white youth was hired on the spot. A supervisor of the restaurant notified the Youth Council that the restaurant did not hire blacks for certain positions. Afterward, the Youth Council proceeded to contact the restaurant’s owner, Ben Marcus, by letter to inform him that his employment system was not integrated. Marcus failed to reply to the letter in a timely manner, leading the Youth Council to picket the restaurant. By the third day of picketing, Marcus finally contacted the group, requesting a meeting. At the meeting, Marcus insisted that his restaurant did not have a discriminatory hiring policy and vowed to re-emphasize that to his employees. After the meeting, the young man was hired. EM