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Anniversary of the Greensboro, North Carolina Sit-Ins
Intro CopyFebruary is Black History Month, and Social Studies teachers can begin the month-long commemoration by letting students use eLibrary to research the Greensboro, North Carolina Sit-Ins, which began February 1, 1960. Just after 4 o’clock in the afternoon, four college freshmen from the all-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) College entered the Woolworth’s department store in downtown Greensboro. They made a few small purchases and then sat down at the store’s Whites-only lunch counter and ordered coffee. The waitress said: “We don’t serve Negroes here.” One of the students replied: “I beg to differ,” pointing out that the store accepted their money at the cash register when they bought school supplies. The young men were asked to leave, but they remained seated until the store closed at 5:30. Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, who became known as the "Greensboro Four," ignited a movement that would change the country. The next day, more than 20 black students joined the sit-in. As some white customers heckled them and the lunch counter staff refused them service, the students read books and studied or sat quietly. On day four, some 300 people took part in the sit-in. A week later, the sit-in movement spread to other cities in North Carolina and then to other major cities in the South. The movement, while not the first sit-in, gained much media attention and showed that young African-Americans could peacefully protest against segregation and have a real impact. In July 1960, Woolworth's manager Clarence Harris asked several black employees to change out of their work clothes and order a meal at the counter, thus ending the store’s Whites-only policy. While there is no longer a Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, in 2010, fifty years after the first sit-in, the site of the former store reopened as the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. Students can jump-start their Black History Month class projects by looking at eLibrary's Research Topics. Here is just a brief sample: Civil Rights (U.S.) Civil Rights Act of 1964 Freedom Rides Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) When searching eLibrary, make use of our Editors' Picks feature, which will be focusing on Black History Month topics during February. Don’t have elibrary? Request a free trial.