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The Greensboro Sit-ins: Series of Protests in Greensboro

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The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of protests in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960. These protests were nonviolent but the people they were protesting against were violent to the nonviolent protesters. These protests led to the removement of Woolworth’s policy of racial segregation in Southern United States. The Greensboro sit-ins were not the first sit-ins in the civil rights movement, this sit-in was the most well known. The main sit-in movement during the civil rights movement happened at Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth store. This is now where the international civil rights center and museum is located.

The Greensboro sit-ins lasted 5 months, 3 weeks, and 3 day, February 1 – July 25, 1960. All of these protests led up to the end of the Woolworths store policy of racial segregation in all of their stores. The first prominent sit-ins of the civil rights movement were the Greensboro sit-ins. Four young black men got tired of the racial segregation at the Woolworths store and staged the first sit-ins in Greensboro. These young men were called the “Greensboro Four”.

These four were students at North Carolina and Agricultural and Technical College. Ezell Blair Jr. (know as Jibreel Khazan), Franklin McCain, David Richmond, and Joseph McNeil were the four young black men that staged the first protest. These students were influenced by Mohandas Gandhi and his non-violent protest teachings and strategies. The protest was planned by Richmond, McCain, Blair, McNeil. A local white businessman helped put their plan into action. It was a simple plan. His name was Ralph Jones.

First, they would contact a news reporter from John’s store. They would go to Woolworth’s store where they would sit at the counters and would wait to be asked to be served. When no one would serve them, they would refuse to leave. This process would get repeated for as long as it took to desegregate the lunch counter at Woolworths store. They wanted this protest to draw attention to the issue and pressure Woolworths store to abolish segregation. The four young men sat down at the lunch counters at Woolworth’s store for the first protest on February 1, 1960.

The store policy was to serve whites only and the staff, which had black employees. The staff still refused to serve the four black men. Clarence Harris, the store manager, asked them to leave, but they refused and stayed until the store closed later that night. The next day, twenty plus black students hound the sit-ins including coeds from Bennett College also in Greensboro. These black students were harassed by white customers. As this continued the lunch counter staff was still refusing to serve the black students. During this chaos, a television cameraman and news reporters covered these protests on February 2, 1960. The local community found out, eventually the nation, and then the world found out about these protests.

The next day, sixty plus people showed up to help this protest. The fourth day had a tremendous increase in people. The protest now included the Greensboro kress store. Three hundred people or more were protesting now. As these protests became widespread, more protests like this started happening. Moved through the state first, then moved onto the nation. Other protests happened in Winston-salem, Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte. By early March, this movement spread to Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Richmond, Virginia.

On July 25, 1960 the lunch counter finally served blacks. On this day, the store manager asked the four black workers to change into everyday clothes. The first blacks that were served was the four employees that changed into street clothes. Those employees names were: Susie Morrison, Geneva Tisdale, Anetha Jones, and Charles Best. Segregation at lunch counters around Greensboro ended. The student nonviolent coordinating committee was formed by the Greensboro sit-ins. During the civil rights movement, this became one of the biggest organizations at this time.

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