Shoppers arriving at the Emporium department store on November 9, 1968, were greeted by an unusual sight. Rather than passing quietly through the San Francisco retailer's neoclassical façade into the waiting arms of perfume-toting cosmetics sales personnel, consumers encountered a number of African American employees of the Emporium as well as members of several Bay Area Black Power organizations. The prospective shopper was handed a leaflet that read:
** BEWARE **** BEWARE **** BEWARE ** EMPORIUM SHOPPERS “BOYCOTT IS ON” “BOYCOTT IS ON” “BOYCOTT IS ON”
For years at The Emporium black, brown, yellow and red people have worked at the lowest jobs, at the lowest levels. Time and time again we have seen intelligent, hard working brothers and sisters denied promotions and respect.
The Emporium is a 20th Century colonial plantation. The brothers and sisters are being treated the same way as our brothers are being treated in the slave mines of Africa.
Whenever the racist pig at The Emporium injures or harms a black sister or brother, they injure and insult all black people. THE EMPORIUM MUST PAY FOR THESE INSULTS. Therefore, we encourage all of our people to take their money out of this racist store, until black people have full employment and are promoted justly throughout The Emporium.
We welcome the support of our brothers and sisters from the churches, unions, sororities, fraternities, social clubs, Afro-American Institute, Black Panther Party, W.A.C.O. and the Poor Peoples Institute.
Printed for the People – By the People of: THE WESTERN ADDITION COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION (W.A.C.O.)
While the boycott, which had started the previous weekend, resulted in heated exchanges between a few shoppers and the protesters, it was, all in all, an unremarkable event. Mainstream media largely ignored it and even the Sun-Reporter covered it – on page five – only when the participating workers were fired by the Emporium a week later. The boycott itself petered out after only two Saturdays of leafleting. The fact of the matter was that a small, peaceful civil rights protest in San Francisco at the end of 1968 was not particularly newsworthy.