Edna Stewart, 72, proprietor of Edna's Restaurant, the landmark soul-food eatery on Chicago's West Side that served as a meeting place for leaders of the civil rights movement during the 1960s, has died.
Ms. Stewart died of complications from ovarian cancer Friday, her daughter Marguerite Banks said.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson held meetings at the restaurant during their campaigns for equal rights, and Ms. Stewart would not charge them for the meals.
Banks said she was not sure whether her mother initially understood the significance of the civil rights leaders' presence at the restaurant when organizers approached her about holding their meetings at Edna's.
"But she knew that the work they were trying to do was important," Banks said, "and she didn't want [their being hungry] to be a stumbling block. So she fed them."
Ms. Stewart opened Edna's with her father in 1966. The business became a fixture on West Madison for its fried catfish and chicken.
Over the last decade, she hired released felons and also welcomed schoolchildren into Edna's for cultural excursions, serving them lunch and history lessons, Banks said.