News / USA

    Historic Civil Rights Ruling Marks 50 Years

    16 black students cleared of wrongdoing for sit-in protests

    The Woolworth’s five-and-dime store is now a civil rights museum.
    The Woolworth’s five-and-dime store is now a civil rights museum.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Ted Landphair

    Fifty years ago this Sunday, on Dec. 11, 1961, the United States Supreme Court reversed the convictions of 16 black college students who had been arrested in a civil rights demonstration in Louisiana.



    It was the high court's first decision regarding sit-in protests throughout the southern states.

    The students had been arrested in the state capital, Baton Rouge, where they were refused service in two racially-segregated restaurants. After they defied police orders to get up from their seats and leave, they were charged with disturbing the peace.

    In his opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that the students had been peaceful and quiet and had not violated a law written to prevent a public disturbance. He wrote, “There is no evidence to support a finding that . . . the students' . . . behavior disturbed, or could have disturbed, the peace.”

    Four North Carolina A&T College students, including Ronald Martin (left) and Robert Patterson, were arrested for sitting at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960.
    Four North Carolina A&T College students, including Ronald Martin (left) and Robert Patterson, were arrested for sitting at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960.

    Sit-ins had become a tactic of the civil rights movement in 1960, the year before the Supreme Court ruling, when other black students sat at the previously all-white lunch counters in the Woolworth and Kress variety stores in Greensboro, North Carolina.

    They were denied service and ordered to leave. When they quietly refused, police were called, and the students were arrested on charges of trespassing and creating a public disturbance.

    Sit-ins, or sit-downs, had been used by striking workers worldwide for years. But the idea was new to the civil rights movement. The sit-in in Greensboro inspired a wave of similar tactics throughout North Carolina and then other southern states. Many restaurants were desegregated in their aftermath.  

    Three years after the Supreme Court ruled sit-ins to be lawful, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which included a public accommodations section that barred racial discrimination by hotels and restaurants.

    The Woolworth store in Greensboro - where it all started - is now the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora