Buddy's no bastion of segregation

Again comes that false characterization, "the staunchly segregated Buddy's Restaurant on Emmet Street."

Lisa Provence's excellent profile of Paul Gaston [April 1 Hotseat: "Civil disobedient: Gaston's history lesson"] continues the stereotype that Buddy Glover's restaurant stood for segregation. Not quite.

It served as the scapegoat for segregation. The little-known truth is that Buddy's served black customers when virtually no other white-owned restaurant here would.

During my 1955-61 period as a UVA student and part-time radio disk jockey and a Yankee integrationist, one of my responsibilities was to shepherd black musicians when they came to segregated Charlottesville for concerts. We always ate at Buddy's.

Why? Because Glover, the sixth restaurant owner I phoned, was the first to say yes rather than no.

We ate in his Walnut Room, the nicely appointed dining room regularly used by civic clubs for lunches and dinners. Other restaurants in town also had private dining rooms, but theirs were for whites only. Not good. Legends like Benny Goodman integrated their bands in the 1930s. We needed to show Southern hospitality to them all, not just the Caucasians.

Buddy Glover did.

What put Buddy in the eye of the 1961 Public Accommodations Law storm was not "staunch segregation." It was his outspoken objection to being dictated to by the federal government. The integration they were aiming at didn't bother him especially. It was how they went about it.

That's an important difference in attitude– but few on the integration front lines cared. Once Buddy spoke out, he was the lightning rod.

For his part, Glover refused to accept that a federal law was needed to end segregation. He refused to knuckle under. That's what was truly being picketed at Buddy's, his attitude that government couldn't tell a private business who to serve.

Government could and did, so Glover closed the restaurant and went into catering, doing business with the side of the community who considered him a credit to his race.

His customer ledgers for the first five years would make interesting reading.

Rey Barry