Greensboro Sit-In Facts
The Greensboro sit-in was a major moment in the American civil rights movement when young African-American students staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in North Carolina.
The year was 1960, and segregation raged throughout the country, but the students decided they had had enough. According to History.com, they sat down and refused to leave, after having been denied service because of their race. The Greensboro sit-in took place in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has echoes of Rosa Parks and other symbolic moments that eventually helped end segregation in the United States.
Greensboro Sit-In Google Doodle
The Greensboro sit-in is the subject of a Google Doodle on February 1, 2020, for the 60th anniversary of the action.
Feb. 1 marks the anniversary of the beginning of the historic Greensboro sit-ins, which were held at a Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro.
Led by four North Carolina A&T Students – Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Jibreel Khazan (then Ezell Blair, Jr.) and David Richmond, the nonviolent protests lasted over five months.
The Greensboro sit-ins are considered one of the biggest events of the Civil Rights Movement and set the standard for modern nonviolent protest and resistance.
The sit-ins were inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
· While the manager of the lunch counter had alerted authorities when the four students sat down, Ralph Johns, a white businessman who aided the students, had alerted media outlets earlier in the day. By the time police arrived, the media was already there and word of the protests had spread.
· When the Greensboro Four returned to the lunch counter on the second day, 20 other students were there, including some from NC A&T, Bennett College, Women’s College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) and Dudley High School
· The fourth day of the protest included over 300 people and it expanded to a second lunch counter at Kress.
· By the end of the week, students in Winston-Salem, Durham, Raleigh, and Charlotte began similar protests. It would begin sweeping through the Southeast including Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
· Sales at the boycotted stores dropped by a third.
· By July 1960, just a few months after the sit-ins first began, the lunch counter at the Greensboro Woolworth’s had become integrated.
· Four years later, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would mandate all businesses to desegregate.
What happened to the Greensboro Four?
Ezell Blair Jr. was the son of a teacher who received his B.S. in sociology in 1963. He was a student government leader. He had to move to Massachusetts because the publicity made it difficult to get a job in Greensboro. He went on to work with the “developmentally disabled people for the CETA program in New Bedford, Mass.” He also has worked “with the AFL/CIO Trade Council in Boston and the Opportunities Industrialization Center and at the Rodman Job Corps Center,” reports February One documentary. His name is now Jibreel Khazan.
Franklin McCain graduated from A&T with a degree in chemistry and biology. He went on to work for Celanese Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina for 35 years, and he stayed active in the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He served on university boards and received an honorary doctorate, according to the Civil Rights Digital Library.
David Richmond died young. He had been a high school track star and was born in Greensboro. He majored in business administration and accounting and became a counselor-coordinator for the CETA program in Greensboro. His life was threatened, so he moved to a mountain community, according to Carolina Theatre.
He worked as a janitor and “battled many demons,” sad that he couldn’t improve the world more than he had. He was 49 years old when he died in 1990 and received a posthumous honorary doctorate degree from At&T State University.
Joseph McNeil earned a degree in engineering physics in 1963 and joined the U.S. Air Force, where he became a captain. He was a Major General in the Air Force Reserves and started diversity initiatives that changed the Air Force forever. He then went into computer sales and worked as a stockbroker and commercial banker. He lives in New York. His “breaking point” was when he was not served a hot dog at the Greensboro bus terminal, according to Carolina Theatre.