Proprietor of successful Civil-Rights-era soul food restaurant Edna Stewart dies

Edna Stewart’s legendary soul food restaurant on Chicago’s West Side served as a meeting place for leaders of the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

Among her patrons were the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and an aide, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who came to eat for free while they organized for equal rights. King and his colleagues also held meetings in the eatery to launch a campaign to end housing discrimination.

Her daughter Marguerite Banks said she’s not sure whether her mother knew the significance of their presence when organizers with King approached Stewart about holding their meetings at Edna’s.

“But she knew that the work they were trying to do was important, and she didn’t want (their being hungry) to be a stumbling block. So she fed them,” Banks said. “She knew what they were trying to do for the black community but also for society at large.”

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