On February 1, 1960, four African-American college students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College decided to have lunch and coffee at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The brave young men knew what they were getting into. They understood that the white patrons around the restaurant were glaring at them from the surrounding tables.
After finishing their coffee, they stayed in their seats until the five-and-dime closed.
A few days later, the courageous young men returned, but brought 300 other students with them.
Woolworth’s desegregated in July of 1960. One might wonder why the restaurant would desegregate.
Maybe it was because the owner had a change of heart and decided that African-Americans are not a lesser people because of the color of their skin. It would be impossible to speculate what was going on with the man’s convictions, but there is an unavoidable fact. After the sit-in, Woolworth’s lost $200,000. Adjusted to inflation today, that is a modest 1.67 million dollars.
If Woolworth’s decided not to desegregate, they would have easily gone out of business.
Another unavoidable fact is that if anti-discrimination laws would have been in place at the time, nobody would have known that the owner of Woolworth’s was a racist. The free market brought out this person’s racism, and his business suffered because of it.
To make my position clear, I am against anti-discrimination laws.
Anti-discrimination laws prevent a free market place. The idea of a free market is so private business owners, employers, colleges, and universities have the freedom to pick and choose their clientele, students, and employees freely, hence, the free market.
To make another position clear, I think that private businesses and entities who discriminate in these ways with no legitimate purpose (e.g., a legitimate purpose being a Christian church not hiring a pastor because he is gay) are run by truly amoral and evil people.
However, I believe that they should have a freedom to do so.
Consider the upcoming Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case. The owner of the shop, based in Colorado refused to design a cake for the wedding of a homosexual couple in 2012.
If anti-discrimination laws did not exist, here’s how the free market would have hurt the man’s business:
The couple writes to the editor at the local newspaper or the producer at the local news channel. The story would have been picked up and the owner of the cake shop would have lost business, and subsequently would have had to reconsider his course of action. Instead, a Supreme Court decision is looming six years later.
In fact, KMGH-TV, the local ABC News affiliate in Denver, reports that Masterpiece Cakeshop has lost 40% of their business.
This is how the free market works, and circumventing it by forcing people to serve people who they do not want to serve is suppressing people’s true colors.
The free market cares about one thing. That thing is money.
Anti-discrimination laws attack freedom and suppress the exposition of racists, bigots, homophobes, anti-Semites, etc.
The bottom line is this: I have no right to your services, and you have no right to mine.
Reagan Meredith is a sophomore political science major from Monroe, Louisiana.