Booker-T reopens today
posted by wendy hacker on April 29, 2011 at 9:55 am
ROCKY MOUNT, NC — The Booker-T. (aka Savoy) has been restored and will reopen this coming weekend, 4/29-30/11. It is part of a community revitalization project called the “Douglas Block.” Another theater, the Manhattan, has also been left standing but this theater has been repurposed for retail. Both of these theaters were African-American theaters during segregation and to my knowledge, the Booker-T is the only African-American theater in North Carolina to have been restored and to be used for an entertainment venue.
We are heading up there for the dedication and celebration and will share photos and more history when we return.
If anyone has more info on these historic theaters, please let me know. There are so few of them left.
When you said Booker-T I thought of the wrestler. LOL.
When were segregated theaters outlawed in North Carolina?
To DFC’s comment:
By 1964 with the signing of the Civil Rights Act,a lot of these theatres were desegregated,but at the same time there were a lot of places in North Carolina and in several towns in the South that were still under the scrunity of Jim Crow which continued onward into the early 1970’s,when some Southern towns were still under the influence of not letting people of color enter into some facilities,six years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act. The state outlawed segregated theatres in most of the larger cities in North Carolina,which went into effect until 1963 in some cases until early 1964. But in the small towns like Rocky Mount,it didn’t come until 1964,the same year The “Booker-T” closed its doors.
In North Carolina,there were several black-owned movie houses that had the name “Booker-T”,that catered to African American audiences. There were “Booker-T” theatres all over the state and in cities like Durham,
Rocky Mount,Goldsboro,Raleigh,Charlotte and Winston-Salem just to name a few. During the era of segregation,not only you saw movie theaters that catered to blacks,but also you had drive-in theatres that were also segregated as well. It’s not mentioned here,but blacks in North Carolina had there own drive-in theatres within the state,and there were several that were in Durham,Goldsboro,Gastonia,and Greensboro to name a few that catered to black audiences at the height of the Jim Crow South between the 1930’s all the way up to the mid-to-late 1960’s.
Segregated Theatres as well as Drive-In’s were outlawed in North Carolina by 1964,the same year President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law The Civil Rights Act,which prohibited discrimination against minorities in public places. But you still had the ugly head of Jim Crow turning up in other parts of the state,especially in small towns where segregation still lingered…..during the year of 1964.
“Booker-T” was a chain of movie houses in North Carolina that catered to African Americans from the 1930’s until the mid-1960’s. Some of these theatres closed during the mid-1950’s,but some remained opened until the mid-1960’s when North Carolina was segregated and where blacks couldn’t go at that time.
The “Booker T” chain also operated area Drive-In’s too that catered to African Americans and other minorities.
Raysson, thank you for your very informative posts! Didn’t realize official and unofficial segregation in theaters lasted into the late 1960s.