Black residents faced more hurdles to employment than white residents.
Carl L. Brown, a 1934 graduate of Westerville High School, opened Columbus’ first black-owned supermarket. Brown remembered, “They taught us we could go out and get a job anywhere.” But his teachers had not been Black, and he quickly found out that he could not, in fact, just go out and get a job anywhere. “After I finished high school,” Brown continued, “I went to one of our larger plants and was told I couldn’t be employed because I was a Negro. That was the biggest slap in the face I ever got.”
He did find a job at a grocery store but decided to be his own boss after a supervisor accused him of ignoring a customer and called him a racial slur. He began selling fruits and vegetables out of a Model T pickup before renting space at a market. Brown operated stores at several Mt. Vernon Avenue locations, franchised his business, and in 1969 opened the Carl L. Brown IGA Foodliner, a fixture of the predominately Black Mt. Vernon neighborhood for many years.
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