TSU Sit-In Movement

By: Katie Malcolm and Sarah Grace Ritter


The TSU sit-in movement all started with 13 students who did something as simple as walk down to the local grocery store counter and sit down. The students created a temporary war room where they planned out their protests and even organized a group called the Progressive Youth Association to plan their attack. While their final action of sitting at a lunch counter seems very simple, it actually challenged Houston's Jim Crow laws at the time, and, in fact, caused an uproar. So, while something as simple sitting and waiting to be served lunch seems feasible, the people involved in the movement were never served. After this initial breakthrough, the students continued their protests, sit-ins, and demonstrations, and were able to desegregate nearly 70 lunch counters.

How Houston relates

While the TSU sit ins were similar to sit ins across the nation, they differed in a few aspects. In Houston, many white and black business leaders began to support the sit in movement because they believed they were incapable of stopping the students; however, they did not want media coverage of the desegregation that was taking place. Fearing the possible outbreak of violence, the business leaders organized a media block out. The black out allowed Houston to avoid the violence many other US cities experienced from the sit ins because it contained the protests and did not advertise it to the public.
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“Newly Restored Film From ABC13 Shows Segregation Protests at Houston Lunch Counters.” ABC13. (January 18, 2016). Accessed April 5, 2016. http://abc13.com/news/historic-film-shows-lunch-counter-protests-in-1960-houston/1154984/.

Mendoza, Moises. “Houston Honors TSU Pioneers for Sit-In That Made Strides.” Houston Chronicle. (March 4, 2010). Accessed March 28, 2016. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Houston-honors-TSU-pioneers-for-sit-in-that-made-1694509.php.

Sandifer-Walker, Serbino. “A Sit-In to Face Down Jim Crow.” Houston Chronicle. (March 2, 2008). Accessed April 3, 2016. http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/A-sit-in-to-face-down-Jim-Crow-1776207.php.

Sandifer-Walker, Serbino. “How TSU Students Changed History.” Houston Chronicle. (February 28, 2010). Accessed April 2, 2016. http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/How-TSU-students-changed-history-1694527.php.

“The Story.” Houston Student Movement. Accessed March 29, 2016. http://www.houstonstudentmovement.com/main.html#/the%20story.

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