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History: When A US Prez Apologised To A Ghanaian Finance Minister
 
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10-Oct-2017  
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In the conclusion to what was an extremely embarrassing situation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower offered his apologies to Ghanaian Finance Minister, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, who had been refused service at a restaurant in Dover, Delaware on October 10, 1957.

It was one of the first of many such incidents in which African diplomats were confronted with racial segregation in the United States.

Howard Johnson's restaurant incident

In the United States, Gbedemah is most widely known from an incident on 10 October 1957 when U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower apologized to him after he was refused service in a Howard Johnson's restaurant in Dover, Delaware.

Gbedemah reportedly told the staff: "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 incident resulted in Gbedemah being invited to breakfast at the White House.

While the matter might appear rather small relative to other events in the Cold War, the continued racial slights to African (and Asian) diplomats during the 1950s and 1960s were of utmost concern to U.S. officials.

During those decades the United States and the Soviet Union were competing for the “hearts and minds” of hundreds of millions of people of color in Asia and Africa.

Racial discrimination in America–particularly when it was directed at representatives from those regions–was, as one U.S. official put it, the nation’s “Achilles’ heel.”

Matters continued to deteriorate during the early 1960s, when dozens of diplomats from new nations in Africa and Asia faced housing discrimination in Washington, D.C., as well as a series of confrontations in restaurants, barbershops, and other places of business in and around the area. It was clear that American civil rights had become an international issue.
 
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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