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This Day in Georgia History

July 22, 1964

Restaurants Ordered to Serve Blacks

In Atlanta, a three-judge federal court ordered the Heart of Atlanta Motel and Lester Maddox’s Pickrick Restaurant to serve black customers by virtue of the public accommodations provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The three-judge panel - consisting of judges E.P. Tuttle, L.R. Morgan, and F.A. Hooper - gave attorneys for Maddox and the motel until Aug. 11 to appeal the ruling. The case of Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5, 1964. On Dec. 14, 1964, in a 9-0 decision, the justices upheld Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce includes the power to prohibit segregation in places of public accommodation if those places affect the flow of goods and people from one state to another. Subsequently, the Heart of Atlanta Motel agreed to desegregate. Lester Maddox, however, refused to open the Pickrick to blacks and closed the restaurant. His opposition to the federal government gained Maddox support among some white Georgians, which he capitalized on in a variety of ways - from selling political souvenirs (including autographed pick handles) to successfully running for governor in 1966.