Charles H. Wesley was a prominent African American historian, religious leader, and civil rights advocate. He is best known for his direct action to desegregate the U.S. Capitol restaurants in 1934.
Wesley graduated from Fisk University in 1911. After graduating, he went on to earn a master’s degree from Yale University in 1913. In 1925, he became the fourth African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity in 1928 from Wilberforce University. He was an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and later wrote a total of more than fifteen books on black history and political science.
Dr. Wesley went on to serve as the Dean of the Liberal arts and the Graduate School at Howard University. He also served as President of Wilberforce University from 1942 to 1947. He went on to found Central State University which was located across the street from Wilberforce in 1947.
In 1976, he became Director of the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia. He was also a life member of the American Historical Association.
In 1934, Wesley joined an attempt to end Jim Crow at the U.S. Capitol restaurants through direct action. Small interracial groups were organized to seek service at the restaurants.
On March 15th Wesley was refused service at the House of Representatives public restaurant with a small group of prominent White Americans. Wesley was told, “We don’t serve colored people here.”
The party stayed at the table for an hour and drafted a resolution signed by three white members of the party protesting the group’s treatment and the policy. They attempted to deliver it to Warren, who was having dinner in the private House members’ restaurant, but they were barred. Instead, they left their protest at CongressmanWarren’s office. Jim Crow continued in the Capitol for nearly 20 more years.