Sit-Ins at Hecht's Department Store, Washington DC 1951
The Hecht Company store at 7th and F Street N.W. circa 1930
This historic marker was dedicated in 2016 and commemorates Terrell's leadership of the sit-ins that led to the end of segregation in public accommodations in Washington.
Backstory and Context
Established in 1950 and led by Mary Church Terrell, Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws led pickets of Hecht's Department store from July 1951 until the company ended its practice of maintaining a segregated cafeteria within this store. The following year, attorneys working with this DC organization won a court victory in District of Columbia v. John Thompson. Thompson was a restaurant owner that persisted in maintaining the color line. The court found Thompson in violation of to city ordinances passed during the era of Reconstruction that outlawed segregation in the nation's capitol. The court's decision upholding the validity of these 1872 and 1873 laws that had not been enforced for seven decades effectively served the same purpose as passing a citywide ordinance in the 1950s and served as a landmark victory in the years leading up to sit-ins and other challenges to segregation in other cities.