Sitting for Equality

In 1960, segregation was still a normal thing in the United States, but a non-violent protest by four young black men, Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil (all students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College) began the first sit-in protest at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. It sparked a sit-in movement that soon spread to college towns throughout the region. This was influenced by the non-violent protest techniques practiced by Mohandas Gandhi, as well as the former Freedom Riders movement. Though many protesters were arrested, their actions made an immediate and lasting impact, forcing the lunch counter Woolworth and other establishments to change their segregationist policies.

The four young men planned their protest carefully, and enlisted the help of a local white businessman, Ralph Johns, to put their plan into action. The official policy of the restaurant was to refuse service to anyone but whites. Denied service, the four young men refused to give up their seats, and caused police to arrive at the scene. However they were unable to take action due to the lack of provocation. By that time, Johns had already alerted the local media, who had arrived in full force to cover the events on television.  Within a week, over 300 students had joined the protest at Woolworth’s, paralyzing the lunch counter and other local businesses nearby. Heavy television coverage of the Greensboro sit-ins sparked a movement that spread quickly to college towns throughout the South and into the North, as the young college generation of that time joined in various forms of peaceful protest against segregation in places such as libraries, beaches, and hotels.

In response to the success of the sit-in movement, dining facilities across the South were being integrated within 3 months. By this time, when college students were on summer vacation, Woolworth’s had quietly integrated its lunch counter; four black Woolworth’s employees named Geneva Tisdale, Susie Morrison, Anetha Jones and Charles Best were the first to be served.

This information gathered by sources of history.com is a legitimate and authoritative documentary, since scholars have no problem finding historical facts related to black history.

http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/the-greensboro-sit-in

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