Landmark Lunch Counter Protest in Greensboro

Photography by Cewatkin, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license. 

On February 1, 1960, four African American college students sat down at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s Department Store in downtown Greensboro and asked to be served. They were refused, launching a sit-in movement that would spread throughout North Carolina and the South.

The four students, Ezell Blair, Jr. (later known as Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil and David L. Richmond, were all freshmen from nearby North Carolina A&T State University.

Sit-ins by college students during the next several months forced the integration of businesses in the region. Local media attention led to national coverage. The protest spurred similar efforts across the country, sparking a national call to battle by civil rights activists who endorsed the nonviolent form of protest to demonstrate society’s inequities for blacks.

In April 1960, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an outgrowth of the sit-in movement, organized at Shaw University in Raleigh. The sit-ins and demonstrations throughout the South, slowly led to changes in local attitudes.

Nationally, these and other protests ultimately led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both of which assured the legal rights of blacks.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.