Mother's Agrees to Apologize to Wash U Students

By BETSY TAYLOR
|  Friday, Oct 30, 2009  |  Updated 4:13 PM CDT
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Rivets are still used to reinforce the pockets of modern trousers like this pair of Levi-Strauss jeans, shown May 5, 2006 in Reno, Nev. Tailor Jacob Davis was the first to use rivets to design more durable pants for workers. (AP Photo/Debra Reid)

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Oh brother, Mother's.

A group of black students from Washington University who claimed Division Street's Original Mother's bar declined them entry because they were black said Wednesday they've reached an agreement with the business that will help them combat racial discrimination.

The students said at a news conference the bar has agreed to apologize, join them at a Chicago rally against discrimination in November, take part in four fundraisers for a worthy cause and provide sensitivity training to its managers. As part of the settlement, the students agreed not to file a lawsuit or seek money from the bar.

"Discrimination and racial profiling still happen, and we need to have a larger dialogue about it," said Fernando Cutz, 21, the school's senior class president.

Brad Grayson, a lawyer representing the bar, said after the news conference the bar does not believe it discriminated against the students as it enforced its dress code policy. "There was no intention to admit white kids with baggy jeans and exclude black kids with baggy jeans," he said.

But Grayson said the business will work with the students on efforts to combat discrimination and will apologize because they had a bad experience at Mother's.

This week, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., asked the U.S. Department of Justice to begin a "a swift inquiry" into the incident. University chancellor Mark Wrighton wrote to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley last week, saying: "I can only imagine the humiliation and discouragement these six young students felt last weekend when they were turned away from this establishment because of their race."

Wrighton asked the mayor to investigate and to ensure "similar incidents do not occur to future visitors to the City of Chicago." The university said it has not yet received a response from the mayor's office or the Department of Justice.

Regis Murayi, 21, a senior from Aberdeen, Md., who said he was not allowed into the bar, said establishments with policies forbidding baggy jeans should reconsider.

"I think they're created as a guise for establishments to selectively choose who they allow into the establishment," he said.

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