|photo courtesy of NARA|
I had just turned 17 at the time and most of the young people on the bus that day were about the same age it was quite a mix we were young men and women, Black, White, Asian, Jewish and Native Americans, rich and poor. Some of the kids I knew but most I was meeting for the first time and we were all prepared to face whatever we had to in order to make America a better place everyone.
Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-In
In 1960 four freshmen from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro walked into the F. W. Woolworth store and quietly sat down at the lunch counter. They were refused service, but they stayed until closing time. The next morning they came with twenty-five more students. On the third day, sixty-three students joined the sit-in. On the following day, the students were joined by three white female students from the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina, and by the fifth day Woolworth had more than three hundred demonstrators at the store. The next day the company said they were willing to negotiate, but only token changes were made. The students resumed their sit-ins, the city adopted more stringent segregation policies, and forty-five students were arrested and charged with trespassing. The students were so enraged by this that they launched a massive boycott of stores with segregated lunch counters. Sales dropped by a third, forcing the store owners to relent. Six months from the very first sit-in, the four freshmen returned and were served at Woolworth’s lunch counter.
Within a year similar peaceful demonstrations took place in over a hundred cities North and South. At Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, students formed their own organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”). The students’ bravery in the face of verbal and physical abuse led to integration in many stores even before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Sit-Ins (video made for 5th grade class)
Freedom Rides pt. 1
The Freedom Rides pt. 2