The Bayou Restaurant

A Restaurant That Desegregated Before the 1961 Freedom Ride

The Bayou restaurant was a Freedom Ride stop in 1961 that had previously desegregated in agreement with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). It was therefore not a Freedom Ride destination on December 16, 1961.

The Bayou is a well-known restaurant in Havre de Grace, Maryland on Route 40. It opened in 1949 and continued to operate in 2021. 

In early December 1961, the CORE leadership found out that some of the restaurants on Route 40 were in fact still segregated despite agreeing to desegregate ahead of the called-off Freedom Ride planned for November 11. So, it took action.

According to a Baltimore Afro-American, the organization came up with a list of 47 restaurants in Delaware and Maryland that it would subsequently check to ensure that the owners were abiding by the agreement. Over the next two weeks, random CORE checkers stopped in these places to find out their status with regards to serving and/or segregating people of color.

In 1961, it was listed as "desegregated," meaning its owners had made the change following the CORE pressure earlier that year and stuck with the new policy. In this way, the Bayou avoided being the target of a Freedom Ride sit-in on Dec. 16.

The Bayou is the only restaurant from the Freedom Ride era in Harford County that is still operating and housed in its original building.



927 Pulaski Highway (Route 40), Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078 ~ The Bayou is located on Route 40 in the middle of Havre de Grace. When coming from the Baltimore area, it is on the left side, just after Lewis Lane in Havre de Grace.