News / USA

    Remembering the 1960s 'Sit-in' Civil Rights Movement

    FILE - The lunch counter at the former F.W. Woolworth is shown at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C., Jan. 7, 2010.
    FILE - The lunch counter at the former F.W. Woolworth is shown at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C., Jan. 7, 2010.
    Chris Simkins
    February is U.S. Black History Month, a time to pay tribute to people and events that helped shape the history of African Americans.  A pivotal moment in that history happened 54 years ago when four black university students in North Carolina sat down at a whites-only lunch counter.  Their actions re-ignited the U.S. civil rights movement and the struggle by millions of African Americans to achieve racial equality and justice.

    In 1960, Joseph McNeil and three other young black university students sat down to get something to eat at a "white's only" lunch counter at the Woolwoth's department store in Greensboro, North Carolina. "In our hearts we thought all racial segregation was an evil," he said.

    When they were not served because of their skin color they refused to leave.  Jibreel Khazan was another member of the so called "Greensboro Four" who remembers the conversation he had with the white waitress 54 years ago.

    Former North Carolina A & T students, left to right, Joseph McNeill, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan, are shown at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., Feb. 1, 1980.Former North Carolina A & T students, left to right, Joseph McNeill, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan, are shown at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., Feb. 1, 1980.
    x
    Former North Carolina A & T students, left to right, Joseph McNeill, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan, are shown at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., Feb. 1, 1980.
    Former North Carolina A & T students, left to right, Joseph McNeill, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan, are shown at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., Feb. 1, 1980.
    "What do you boys want?  And we said we would like to be served very politely.  And she [the waitress] said you boys know we do not serve colored people here there is a lunch counter for you over there," Khazan recalled.

    The sit-in demonstrations grew and each day more students would came to the lunch counter in peaceful protests.  The action played a pivotal roll in the civil rights movement by helping to integrate lunch counters nationwide.  

    McNeil and Khazan, the two surviving members [of the first sit in] returned to the famous lunch counter that is now a civil rights history museum.  McNeil said its a place with great symbolism. "It lets us not forget the suffering and sacrifice that made it possible for all of us to be better Americans just a little bit and to treat each other with a little respect, and that is worthwhile," he said. "To the extent that the [civil rights] museum fulfills those types of awareness then it serves a great purpose."

    The February 1960 sit-in demonstration injected a new level of activism into the civil rights movement, which until then had largely been confined to fighting for equal rights in the courts.  After four months and $200,000 in lost business Woolworth agreed to integrate its lunch counter.  

    McNeil said their protest movement has become more than just a part of black history. "I am a part of American history and America's influence in history on the rest of the world.  Things that are happening today probably had its genesis going back to the 1960's and even before that.  So it is good to be a part of that and to be on the right side of justice," he added.

    The four black men who were denied service at the Woolworth store in Greensboro, NC thirty years ago, take their places at the same lunch counter to recreate their sit-in, Feb. 2, 1990.The four black men who were denied service at the Woolworth store in Greensboro, NC thirty years ago, take their places at the same lunch counter to recreate their sit-in, Feb. 2, 1990.
    x
    The four black men who were denied service at the Woolworth store in Greensboro, NC thirty years ago, take their places at the same lunch counter to recreate their sit-in, Feb. 2, 1990.
    The four black men who were denied service at the Woolworth store in Greensboro, NC thirty years ago, take their places at the same lunch counter to recreate their sit-in, Feb. 2, 1990.
    ​Now the history of the sit in demonstrations lives on with a museum devoted to promoting an understanding of the struggles for equality around the world.  Joseph McNeil believes much remains to be done in overcoming racial barriers.

    "The fight goes on and there is no turning back.  We are going to have to press ahead with as much vigor as we had back in the 1960's as we face challenges on a day to day basis.  We are talking about challenges in terms of voting accessibility and challenges in terms of social justice.  The engagement still needs to take place and we need to be prepared to stay in this thing [the fight for civil rights] for the long haul," McNeill stated. 

    McNeil said its those same feelings many civil rights demonstrators experienced more than five decades ago.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora