The Aberdeen Diner

A 1961 Freedom Ride Hotspot

The Aberdeen Diner was a central point in the Dec. 16, 1961 Freedom Ride. The diner was still segregated and therefore a target destination according to the CORE brochure.

In 1961, the Aberdeen Diner existed in the southern or western edge of Aberdeen, along Route 40 near a creek and where a 7-11 store currently stands. When the Freedom Riders came through Aberdeen, they stopped at the diner. They were met by the owner reading them the Trespass Act, the standard act of restaurant owners seeking to disperse Freedom Riders in Maryland, rather than serve them.

The Baltimore Afro-American reported that one counter-protestor yelled "How is Kruschev?" at the Freedom Riders on December 16, 1961. Another counter-protestor inside the restaurant threatened to forcibly remove any Freedom Riders who came in before he was removed by local police. Another yelled out a car window to the protestors: "I hope you freeze to death!" At the Aberdeen Diner, a number of Freedom Riders refused to leave after hearing the Trespass Act.

The police came and arrested six riders, all from from Baltimore between the ages of 17 and 33. Interestingly, the police released all of their names and addresses, to be published in newspapers. This included information for the youngest Freedom Rider arrested: Carolyn A. Harcom, age 17. They added to the total of 14 Freedom Riders arrested on that day across Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties in Maryland.

In total, 11 of 35 restaurants that had previously agreed to desegregate apparently went back on their commitments, leading to the Freedom Ride.

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602 South Philadelphia Boulevard, Aberdeen, Maryland 21001 ~ The original Aberdeen Diner no longer exists. It was on a spot in Aberdeen near a 7-11 by a creek on Route 40 between James and Carol avenues, closer to James. It is on the left side of Route 40, coming from Baltimore.