Today In Black History: February 1, 1960
- Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond stage a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, beginning the first of the historic sit-ins of the 1960s.
On February 1, 1960, four African American college students sat down at a lunch counter at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, and politely asked for service. Their request was refused. When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Their passive resistance and peaceful sit-down demand helped ignite a youth-led movement to challenge racial inequality throughout the South.
By July 25, 1960, F.W. Woolworth agreed to integrate its Greensboro store; four black Woolworth employees — Geneva Tisdale, Susie Morrison, Anetha Jones and Charles Best — are the first to be served.
Today, the site of the building that was Woolworth’s department store is the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. It opened on February 1, 2010, on the 50th anniversary of the original sit in. A section of the Woolworth lunch counter now appears in the display of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.
The sit-ins are cited as a key event in the Civil Rights Movement’s push for de-segregation. While legal segregation may seem a thing of the past, schools in America are more segregated now than they were 40 years ago - and in 2011, homeless mother Tanya McDowell was sentenced to 5 years in prison for sending her son to a school outside her district.