Encore post: Lunch and civil rights


Today is the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in.  Be sure to read Howell Raines’ criticism of news media coverage of civil rights issues in today’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.

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:

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7 Responses to Encore post: Lunch and civil rights

  1. […] is mostly an encore post; please holler quickly if you find a link that does not […]

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  2. […] is mostly an encore post. Share this:TwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Qualifies — and gives me a good reason to call Dwight, no?

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  4. Sif says:

    Hey Bathtub Lifeguard – we were speaking of you last night, when the restaurant kids were talking about the Woolrich people who were in last week. They loved the story about your Dad’s buffalo plaid jacket. I’m not certain that we ever found out where it is. Does Dwight have it? Tamara does not.

    Does this qualify as a sweet note? …Sif

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