E. Daniel Ayres of LRY (Liberal Religious Youth) - First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
As a kid growing up in the North Hills suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, I was taken regularly by my parents to the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh during the ministry of Irving R. Murray. For a number of reasons the youth community at that church became influential. I met like minded peers for the first time.
By 1957, I wangled permission and self-funded a trip to the national LRY convention at Guilford College, in North Carolina. A group of us arrived by train from Washington DC, for most of us, the first time in our lives we had crossed the Mason-Dixon line into "The South."
A mixed group of L.R.Y.s got off the train on Sunday afternoon fairly late, and the cafeteria at the college which would serve the L.R.Y. Conference was not open until the following morning. We were ravenous and asked about for a restaurant where we to "sit down" for dinner. We were informed as we marched up the main drag from the train station toward campus that the only place like that serving Sunday Dinner was the hotel, so we went there and sat down only to become painfully aware than everyone was looking at us and no one would bring us water, a menu, or even approach the table. After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably about 45 minutes, we gave up and walked out to some extent out of sympathy for the black kids from the Chicago congregation in Hyde Park (U. of C. and Meadville Theological Seminary territory).
Eventually that day we found a fried chicken take out window on the side of a store in the black side of town that served us, but the experience prompted some of us to draft a resolution which passed unanimously at the end of the week of our L.R.Y. National Conference meetings which in essence said, If the college that hosted us (A Quaker school) did not do something about the problem, we were never coming back.
Students returning a couple of weeks later to their fall semester heard about it, organized "sit in" efforts and eventually desegregated the hotel. The effort did not get the publicity of some of the later sit-in efforts, but rather helped pave the way for them.
One of the members of that same Pittsburgh L.R.Y. group later dropped out of Radcliffe to replace one of the three activists found murdered in a dyke in Mississippi back in 1961-2.
By that time, I had attended a second national L.R.Y. convention out at Grinnell College, Iowa in 1960, and spent the summer following that conference working as a volunteer social group worker for the Unitarian Service Committee supported Clarence Darrow Community Center summer program for underprivileged "at risk" boys and girls in the LeClair Courts Housing Projects in Chicago, the first A.F.D.C. public housing facilities ever built. In those days, tenants could be evicted for simply "having a man in the house."
Added 2014 May 6th.