GREENSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – Monday marks the 56th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in protest that took place at a lunch counter after a group of four black students were refused service.
The event was a key moment in the Civil Rights movement across the segregated South and was commemorated Monday by events in Greensboro.
Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and David Richmond, better known as The Greensboro Four, entered the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro around 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 1, 1960 and purchased items at several counters, according to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum website.
After purchasing the merchandise, they decided to sit down at the store’s “whites only” lunch counter and ordered coffee. They were denied service and ignored. Soon after, they were asked to leave.
The Greensboro Four sat at the counter until the store closed early at 5 p.m. The Four then returned to campus and asked others to join them for the cause, the International Civil Rights Center said.
The next day, 25 men and four women, including the Greensboro Four, returned to the Woolworth’s store. The students sat at the “whites only” lunch counter from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and endured abuse from the white customers. The students sat with books and study materials and ignored the hecklers.
They were still refused service.
The sit-ins gathered strength over the next four days and eventually included more than 1,000 people filling the store in protest.
News of the sit-ins spread across the country and eventually 55 cities in 13 states had their own sit-in protests.
The F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro served their first black customers, employees of the store, on July 25, 1960.
The lunch counter became officially desegregated on July 26, 1960.