NOLA Resistance Oral History Project: The Castles, Freedom House, and Dooky Chase’s


♪ Here, my Lord, come by here ♪ ♪ Come by here ♪ – Freedom House
was just a name we gave to 917 North Tonti. So if you were anybody involved in the civil rights movement, no matter what organization
you belonged to, you can always find a place
to sleep, get a good meal because Virgie was a great cook. – People would come to town,
they had nowhere to sleep, they’d sleep at 917. Sometimes, Mr. Castle–old
man Johnny Castle– would come home, and there’d
be people in his bed. And he would just take a blanket
and crawl up on the floor and let the kids take over the bed because, he said, “Well, these
kids need to have somewhere “to stay in–no problem.” And there was always food
at their house, always. – [Smith-Simmons] Virgie
Castle was a barmaid at Dooky Chase Restaurant. Dooky Chase Restaurant was the first fine dining restaurant for blacks. – Having food from Dooky Chase, like when you went to jail, or even out on the picket line, we were happy to eat that food because it was much better than the food that was in the jail, yeah. – [Hubbard] Folks started getting jobs and working in different departments in city government, state government. Those meetings took place
after the civil rights push. The Urban League, NAACP,
the YMCA, the YWCA, we need to come together, so
we all have a conversation, so we can know how to
push the movement forward. So we met upstairs in
Dooky Chase on Mondays, everybody bought their
own red beans and rice, and we would discuss what the next week or the next month was gonna be about. – It’s the only place that
black and whites gathered to meet to talk about things. And it’s surprising that her restaurant was never destroyed or bombed or anything, that they were not attacked. ♪ Come by here ♪ ♪ We need you Lord,
won’t you come by here? ♪ ♪ Oh Lord, come by here ♪

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