To mark Black History Month, Face2Face Africa will be highlighting popular eateries/restaurants that are etched in black history and the roles their owners played to make them havens for African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement and even before.
On today’s instalment, we spotlight Big Apple Inn, located in Jackson, Mississippi.
Founded by Mexican immigrant Juan “Big John” Mora, who was married to an African-American woman, Big Apple Inn, which he named after his favourite dance, moved to its present location along the Farish Street in 1952.
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Known for its signature pig ear sandwiches and smoked sausage sandwiches, the building in which the restaurant is located has a rather very interesting history. Legendary blues musician Sonny Boy Williamson once lived upstairs and frequented the eatery before heading out for performances.
Iconic civil rights activist Medgar Evers, after becoming Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP in 1954 also once had an office upstairs and usually held strategy meetings with the Freedom Riders in the restaurant.
Geno Lee, who currently runs the eatery and is the great-grandson of Big John, in an interview with WLBT, spoke about Medgar’s meetings with the Freedom Riders:
“A lot of activity was going on down here, especially during the Civil Rights Movement. Medgar Evers’ office was actually above the Big Apple Inn, so when the Freedom Riders would come to town, they would have to meet in our place because the 10×10 square office wasn’t big enough, so they would have had a lot of meetings in the Big Apple Inn,” he said.