“I’ll have a cup of soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of coffee, and my civil rights, please”


Today is the 52nd anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in. Be sure to read Howell Raines’ criticism of news media coverage of civil rights issues in last year’s New York Times: “What I am suggesting is that the one thing the South should have learned in the past 50 years is that if we are going to hell in a handbasket, we should at least be together in a basket of common purpose.”

Four young men turned a page of history on February 1, 1960, at a lunch counter in a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond, sat down at the counter to order lunch. Because they were African Americans, they were refused service. Patiently, they stayed in their seats, awaiting justice.

On July 25, nearly six months later, Woolworth’s agreed to desegregate the lunch counter. One more victory for non-violent protest.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record) (Smithsonian Institution)

News of the “sit-in” demonstration spread. Others joined in the non-violent protests from time to time, 28 students the second day, 300 the third day, and some days up to 1,000. The protests spread geographically, too, to 15 cities in 9 states.

On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Smithsonian caption: "On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)"

Part of the old lunch counter was salvaged, and today is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. The museum display was the site of celebratory parties during the week of the inauguration as president of Barack Obama.

Part of the lunchcounter from the Woolworths store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now displayed at the Smithsonians Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Part of the lunchcounter from the Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now displayed at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Notes and resources:

Student video, American History Rules, We Were There – First person story related by Georgie N. and Greg H., with pictures:

Associated Press interview with Franklin E. McCain:

This is mostly an encore post.

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5 Responses to “I’ll have a cup of soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of coffee, and my civil rights, please”

  1. […] “I’ll have a cup of soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of coffee, and my civil right… (timpanogos.wordpress.com) […]

    Like

  2. pino says:

    So much for Chris Christy

    I think the movement in 1960 is a perfect example of what can be accomplished without government. While I think that government has an absolute duty to remain unbiased in its own practices, there is no need for a law to demand other do so.

    In the end, Woolworth’s changed their policy for a very good reason:

    Companies that behave in poor borish fashions will see their business drop and will eventually fail. Because Woolworth’s wanted to remain IN business, they changed their policy and began to behave like moral, ethical people.

    With that said, Christy made a mistake.

    Like

  3. Eli Rabett says:

    So much for Chris Christy

    Like

  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Great rephrase to make it relevant today.

    Like

  5. whatever4 says:

    Occupy Lunch Counter… worked.

    Like

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