Contested space
Place

Watts Restaurant and Watts Motel

"We may have had a few incidents, and I remember at the Watts Motel, they would throw acid and pee out the window, embarrassing. But they just didn’t want us to integrate, that was the biggest problem."

- Carol Brooks

"They was picketing that place because they wouldn t let Blacks go in there and eat. And they was picketing out there, and one of the professors they started fighting or something. I don t know how it was, but anyway, this professor fell down. And the lady that they owned that restaurant, she urinated in his face. And after that, they never had business anymore."

- Mary Cole

Watts Grill and Watts Motel were opened in the early 1950s. The restaurant was renamed Watts Restaurant in 1957. The segregated restaurant was the site of numerous civil rights protests in the early 1960s. Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the owners, Austin and Jeppie Watts, refused to integrate the restaurant until they were threatened with a lawsuit in 1964. It was the last segregated business in Chapel Hill.

Watts Restaurant and Watts Motel
Watts_Motel_and_Restaurant.jpg
CivilRights08.jpg
WattsOpening1957chw.jpg

Tags: , , , ,

Citation: “Watts Restaurant and Watts Motel,” From the Rock Wall, accessed June 13, 2024, https://fromtherockwall.org/places/watts-restaurant-and-watts-motel.

To learn more...

 A demonstrator is attacked at Watts Restaurant during a sit-in in Chapel Hill, NC.

Carlton's Rock Pile

"That was a very bad experience, because about four or five of us walked in, and Buddy Teagert was the leader, and he said 'sit on the floor..." And then the owner came over and said 'There’s dirt on the floor, I’m going to mop it'” and then he started to pour ammonia on people, hold their nose. So…

 Carol Brooks and Keith Edwards - On the Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill

The interviewees provide an overview of the Chapel Hill Civil Rights Movement. They specifically note the emotion of CRM marches of Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham in 1963. They speak on Watt’s Hotel discrimination and Civil Rights leadership in the area, especially of the friendly Pottersfield…

Carolina Theater

"Let's reflect back to Chapel Hill...that's where you had the Varsity Theater, Carolina Theater, in Chapel Hill. Then we had a Rialto Theater in Carrboro, on the main street. That was a Black theater. But here again, if it left scars on me, the scars are there for me, it's the fact that I would have…

Colonial Drugstore

"...we had Colonial Drugstore, the Rock Quarry, a number of other restaurants around here that we were able to desegregate. And what it caused, students, with the leadership of some adults like Hilliard Caldwell and some others, we began to demonstrate and ask the peoples for service at the lunch…

Dairy Bar

"Big John, who was known as the most racist drugstore guy, you know, you couldn't, he didn't allow blacks to come in there and do anything in his store. He had made it known that he was a racist, so when you walked down his street you had to look for him, when you walked past the drugstore you had…

Lenoir Dining Hall

"I’ll never forget, down at the university when I worked in the food service, they were picketing in Lenoir Dining Hall, Chase Cafeteria, and the Student Union. We all had to group together because they didn’t want to pay us minimum wage, and the hours were so long. So, a guy came in from Georgia…

Memorial Hospital

"And that was 1952, when the hospital was opened. That's when jobs really became available. And then, if you got a job at the university hospital, twenty-five dollars a week, a hundred dollars a month. That was a long way from paying seven dollars a week." - Rebecca Clark "My grandmother didn't do…

 Regina Merritt and Mary Cole - On land ownership, integration, and racism

“My parents always taught us you know who you are, no matter what you say to me or what you call me, I know who I am. And that stayed with me for years. Because people are going to talk about you, you cannot stop people from talking. They can say what they want to say to you, but you know who you…

The Pines Restaurant

"As a kid I worked for The Pines down there, where they didn't let no Blacks come in there and eat, and my mommy and my daddy worked back there in the back. By the time I was a senior in high school, you had broken the rule where they could, Blacks could come there and eat." - Thurman Couch Located…

Trailways Bus Station

"Me and my Mom used to go to the Trailways bus station to catch the bus to Durham ~ they had black, well it was "colored" back then, on one side and "white" on the other, and we had our place on the bus, we had our water fountains for coloreds and our bathrooms for coloreds, and we figured that's…

Varsity Theatre

"My dad, when we was growing up he worked at the Varsity Theatre as a janitor, and that gave us the opportunity to go and see some of the movies. As you know, back in the early '50s and the '60s and maybe up into the '70s, you know, you were not, African Americans was not allowed to go to the…
"We’re writing our own history, thank you!"

Ms. Esphur Foster

Want to add in?  Have a different view?  What do you think? Want to upload your own photos or documents?

History is not the past.  It’s the sense we make of the past now. Click below to RESPOND—and be part of making history today.

Respond