The Impact of the Sit In
African Americans were not allowed sit at lunch counters at the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C. in 1960. African Americans were denied equal rights when they attempted to find a house or apartment, registered to vote, and ordered lunch. The Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C. along with other stores and restaurants in the neighborhood refused to serve and seat African American customers at their lunch counters.
F.W. Woolworth Segregation
On February 1, 1960, four African American students sat down at the Woolworth's lunch counter and politely requested service. The four men were refused service. After being asked to leave they remained in their seats. Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, David Richmond, and Ezell Blair attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C. The passive sit down demand of these four men began one of the first sustained sit-ins and started a youth led movement to challenge racial injustice and equality in the South.
Hundreds of students, civil rights organizations, churches, and members of the joined in that became a six-month demonstration in Greensboro, NC. They challenged the racial discrimination policy of the Woolworth store by sitting at the lunch counter and organizing a boycott of the store. The defiance of these people raised the awareness of many African Americans on racial injustice and led to the desegregation of the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter on July 25, 1960.
Three well-dressed African American men sat at the Woolworth's lunch counter and were served lunch at 2:00 P.M. on July 25, 1960. No-one was there to witness this historic moment. There was no trouble at all. These three men happened to be Woolworth employees. The daily newspaper headlines read, "Lunch Counters were Integrated Here Today, Three Negros Served at 2
- FEB. 1, 1960
- Four black university students from N.C. A&T University began a sit-in at a segregated F.W. Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter.
- MARCH 6, 1960
- President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, prohibiting discrimination in federal government hiring on the basis of race, religion or national origin and establishing The President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity , the EEOC.
- APRIL 1960
- The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
- OCT. 1, 1962
- James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. President Kennedy sent 5,000 federal troops to stop the violence and riots surrounding the incident.
- JUNE 12, 1963
- Mississippi's NAACP field secretary, 37-year-old Medgar Evers, was murdered outside his home in Jackson, Miss.
- AUG. 28, 1963
- More than 250,000 people join in the March on Washington. Congregating at the Lincoln Memorial, people listened to Martin Luther King deliver his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
- The basic plan of the sit-ins was that a group of students would go to a lunch counter and ask to be served. If they were, they'd move on to the next lunch counter. If they were not, they would not move until they had been. If they were arrested, a new group would take their place. The students always remained nonviolent and respectful.
- Do show yourself friendly on the counter at all times. Do sit straight and always face the counter. Don't strike back, or curse back if attacked. Don't laugh out. Don't hold conversations. Don't block entrances.
- Another part of the sit-ins was that the students would be dressed up in their best Sunday clothing. James J. Kilpatrick, the editor of the Richmond News Leader and an segregationist, noted that this created an interesting contrast with the whites who came to harass them.