Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Elder Michaux

This is another picture from inside the Happy News Cafe. I have found the pictures of the Cafe interesting, but also, there have been some clues that perhaps there is more to the story than just a simple cafe. First, we saw on an earlier picture that under the "Happy News" sign outside, it said, "Bernarr Macfadden Foundation". The "Foundation" part might indicate that this was perhaps some sort of Soup Kitchen with Dignity type of thing. Notice also the "Vital Foods at Bargain Prices" on the sign. Bernarr Macfadden was a publishing mogul, and perhaps his foundation did charitable work.

The picture above shows Elder Michaux working the cash register. Eldoer Michaux was a very early black evangelist, who  was the first black person to host a TV show.

What makes things more confusing, the customers in yesterday's picture looked fairly well off, dressed nicely. So, perhaps the exact story of the Happy News Cafe remains somewhat of a mystery.


  1. Perhaps this article will shed some light on the history of the Happy News Cafe:

  2. Crazygravy: Thank you so much for the website info. Very interesting. Just one more thing in this world I had never heard of.

  3. I couldn't get the link to work, but will try again later.

    As far as the customers looking faily well-to-do goes, everyone tended to dress much more "formally" until maybe the mid- to late-70s. Scroll back through the phots we've seen in the last month or so - men wearing hats and suits to the beach, women doing their grocery shopping in hats and heels. If I had dared to wear my jeans for anything but mowing the lawn I'd have probably been skinned alive; now people wear them to church!

  4. You may have to copy the link to your Address Bar or type it in manually.

  5. I read that Bernarr Macfadden may have been a racist; so it's strange to find that one of his businesses catered to a black community.

    Here's what I found:
    "He also promoted fasting by appealing to racial prejudices, suggesting that fasting was a practice of self-denial that only civilized white men would choose to embrace."

    These have been interesting photos and an interesting topic.

  6. I doubt it was one of Macfadden's businesses, more likely it benefitted from one of his charitable foundations.

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  8. From crazygravy's link...
    "By 1941, Elder Michaux had made an enormous impact upon the nation. He exploded upon the social and political landscape as a vocal supporter of civil and human rights. In the summer of 1933, Elder Michaux assumed the management of McFadden’s Café, an eatery located in Washington, DC. Under Elder’s management, the restaurant flourished and became the forerunner of the Happy News Café, where meals were cheap and free to those who had no funds."

  9. In a similar vein, there is a high-end restauranteur here in Charlotte, by the name of Jim Noble, who recently opened a place called King's Kitchen. He uses the kitchen to train the jobless & folks coming out of prison, so they have a trade and some positive work references. (The training also includes daily Bible study.)

    It's run as a regular "meat-and-three" restaurant open to the white-collar uptown crowd, but it's a non-profit (or else the profits are rolled back into the charity, I'm not sure).

    Haven't eaten there yet, but I hear the food's good and the service is a little uneven but very sincere!