Let’s do lunch: February 1, 1960, non-violence, human rights, and a grilled cheese sandwich


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.

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)

From the Smithsonian Institution: "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)"

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 Institution: "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:

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3 Responses to Let’s do lunch: February 1, 1960, non-violence, human rights, and a grilled cheese sandwich

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Yes, someone probably should get a credit for that photo. Can you tell me who? Click on the photo and you’ll find the site where I found it. Try the other links — who was the photographer?

    Let me know when you find who should get the credit.

    Like this

  2. Erv James says:

    Say, who took that photo above of the Greensboro Lunch Counter. Is is a public domain photo, Smithsonian photo or is their someone who should receive credit for it?

    Like this

  3. Melvin Band says:

    On Feb.1,2010,the 50th anniversity of the sit-in in Greensboro, N.C.,the Diversity Committee at New Hope Solebury H.S. in Pa. held a meeting. To my surprise,no one on the committee( I was a community member)confessed any knowledge of the significance of this historical date which showed and still does that proactivism and non-violence can peacefully co-exist to ensure that everyone’s civil rights are protected. I sincerely hope that the New Hope/Solebury School District incorporates this event into its curriculum.

    Like this

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