The Richmond History Podcast

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bojangles Gets Coffee and Donuts

Bojangles with Shirley Temple

Richmond native Bill "Bojangles" Robinson once said, “I went to four schools, two days a piece”.

He's mostly know as a smiling, nonoffensive, tap dancer, but this story that Duke Ellington told at Bo’s funeral is a look into another side of his personality (paraphrased):

Once when the band was playing in the Midwest touring with Bojangles, the folks from the band went to get coffee and donuts at a cafĂ©.  The owner said they wouldn’t serve them because they were black.  They went back to the theater and talked to Bojangles who said “C’mon Fellas”.  They went back to the cafe, he put his pearl handled revolver on the counter and Bo whispered “coffee and donuts, please”.   They had coffee and donuts that day.

Cab Callaway said, “All those stories about Bill carrying a gun and shooting and fighting are true”.

Bojangles’ gun may have been gold plated, may have had a pearl handle, or both.* It was given to him by the New York Police Department.

More on Bojangles

*These stories come from Virginia Cavalcade, Winter 1978, except the gold plated gun part.  I have read it, someone from the Black History Museum and Cultural Center said that they heard the same thing, and I am a James Bond fan so I want it to be true… perhaps more then it is.

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