The Big Ten - Crucial Events in the Modern Civil Rights Movement - Sit-in Movement - 1960

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"The Sit-In Movement", Diane Nash and Kelly Miller Smith review a statement about the Nashville sit-ins, Nashville Tennessean, Public Domain.

Segregated eating facilities can be traced back to the racial etiquette developed after the Plessy case.  Blacks could shop in stores with lunch counters--albeit they could not try on clothes there--and often worked in these facilities, but they were not welcome at the eating spaces in stores such as Woolworth's.  If they wanted to order carryout, they had to do so by going to the back door. 

On February 1st four college students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina--Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr., Joseph McNeil and Dave Richmond--challenged this odious practice by sitting down at the lunch counter in the local Woolworth's, and asking to be served.  They were, of course, denied service.  They continued their protest and were soon joined by hundreds of other students in every state but Mississippi.  The students were harassed, physically assaulted and some times arrested, but the protests continued. 

Five months later the Greensboro Woolworth's desegregated its lunch counter.  Even so, it was five years later before the company desegregated all of its lunch counters.  Today part of the counter is in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Original Release: May 27, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

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