Today in Labor History: Ike apologizes for racist treatment of Ghana official

On this day in 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower tried to quiet an international outcry after Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Ghana’s finance minister, was refused service in a U.S. restaurant because of his skin color.

The incident took place at a Howard Johnson restaurant in Dover, Del., prompting the finance minister, who organized African Marxist Kwame Nkrumah’s successful presidential campaign, to remark, “The people here are of a lower social status than I am but they can drink here and we can’t. You can keep the orange juice and the change, but this is not the last you have heard of this.”

The system of open racism and segregation was exposed on the world stage by this incident, casting the U.S. in such an unfavorable light that Eisenhower, to quiet to sooth matters, invited Gbedemah to breakfast at the White House. Nonetheless, America’s segregation de jure would not be abolished until the next decade.

Photo: Gbedemah signs agreement, via Wikipedia.