130. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ghana 1

111. Oct. 9 U.S. Press today featuring story discrimination against Gbedemah2 and his personal secretary (Sutherland3) at [Page 379] Howard Johnson restaurant Dover, Delaware, based on Minister’s statement to press in N.Y.

According Minister’s statement to member USDelUN he and secretary entered restaurant for soft drinks which were packaged to take out. Upon indicating desire consume drinks on premises Gbedemah informed this not possible even after he had identified himself to manager. Whereupon he paid 60 cents, left drinks untouched and departed.

At Department’s request Howard Johnson trying since last night communicate with Minister and express personal regrets. Company preparing press statement saying Johnson apologizing to Minister and declaring segregation not policy of company. Minister informed member USDelUN he making protest to Department. Protest not yet received.4 Minister not departing for London today as planned in order accept invitation by President to have breakfast with him alone October 10.5

Request you personally communicate above to Prime Minister and express regrets U.S. Government over incident.

FYI Department confident President’s intervention will serve to put incident in proper perspective in Minister’s mind and do much to counteract bad press reaction abroad. Ghana Embassy officer informs Department Minister pleased and Ghanaians reassured by President’s action. End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 845J.41/10–957. Official Use Only; Priority. Repeated to USUN.
  2. Gbedemah was in the United States to attend IBRD and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings in Washington and to lead the Ghanaian U.N. Delegation. He was particularly anxious to explore the outlook for financial aid and, if possible, to get the Volta River Project started. At an informal meeting with Assistant Secretary of Commerce Henry J. Kearns on September 25, he expressed interest in the P.L. 480 surplus commodity disposal program. (Memorandum of conversation by Duggan, September 25; ibid., 811.05145J/9–2557) The following day he consulted with ICA and State officials concerned with Ghanaian affairs, and stated his view that one ICA representative in Accra was not enough. (Memorandum of conversation by Duggan, September 26; ibid., 845J.00–TA/9–2657)
  3. Bill Sutherland was a black American from New Jersey who had previously operated a school in Tsito, Ghana. On October 7, he and two other black American college students were on their way with the Minister to Maryland State College at Princess Anne where Gbedemah had a speaking engagement. According to Philip Siekman, in an article in Fortune magazine in November 1961, one of the Americans suggested that though they had been served at a Howard Johnson restaurant in New Jersey, they would not be served in the franchise outside of Dover.
  4. Neither Gbedemah nor the Ghanaian Embassy lodged a formal protest. However, the Ghanaian Ministry of External Affairs sent the following note to Ambassador Flake: “While making allowances for local customs the Ministry wishes to invite the attention of the US Embassy to the incident and to request that such action as appropriate may be taken.” (Telegram 145 from Accra, October 9; Department of State, Central Files, 845J.411/10–957)
  5. Gbedemah had breakfast at the White House with the President and Vice President Nixon on October 10. In a conversation that evening with George D. LaMont of USUN, he indicated that he had discussed the Volta River Project with the President. (Memorandum of conversation by LaMont, October 11; ibid., IO/ODA Files: Lot 62 D 225, Ghana)