In 1934, Representative Oscar De Priest used this discharge petition in an attempt to end discrimination in the House Restaurant. Elected from a Chicago-centered district, De Priest was the first African-American Congressman elected in the 20th century and remained the only African American in Congress during his three terms in the House from 1929 to 1935.
De Priest’s private secretary was thrown out of the House Restaurant on the orders of the chairman of the Committee on Accounts, which managed the restaurant, on the grounds that it was a whites-only establishment. De Priest promptly introduced House Resolution 236 to investigate the incident, and it was referred to the Rules Committee, where it languished. De Priest, determined to bring the measure to the floor for a vote, used a discharge petition to force action on the resolution.
De Priest’s discharge petition succeeded, compelling the House to consider his resolution. The House voted to create a committee to investigate the matter, but it did not seriously probe the incident or the underlying policy, and segregation in the restaurant continued.