The pitmasters of Dixie Inn.

From “Facts … About Wilson North Carolina: The City of Beautiful Trees,” a 1934 publication of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce.

The Dixie Inn opened in 1930 just south of Wilson and quickly established itself as the go-to spot for nights out, civic group meetings, company banquets, and rehearsal dinners. Its painted roof proclaimed its specialties, barbecue and oysters. Like every restaurant of its time and place, Dixie Inn was strictly segregated — at least, in terms of its dining tables. The Inn’s cooks and wait staff were Black, as were their so-called “pitboys,” the men who produced the barbecue for which the Inn was renowned. The photo above shows several African-American men shoveling charcoal under a long row of halved hogs and others tending to the fire that produced the coals while a boy in a cap looks on.



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