Smithsonian Snapshot: Greensboro Lunch Counter, 1960

Article ID: 598836

Released: 5-Feb-2013 11:00 AM EST

Source Newsroom: Smithsonian Institution

  • Credit: Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

    On Feb. 1, 1960, four African American college freshmen sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., and politely asked to be served. When they remained in the seats after their request was refused, they ignited a youth-led movement to challenge injustice and racial inequality throughout the South. A four-stool portion of the Woolworth’s lunch counter is at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Newswise — This Smithsonian Snapshot celebrates Black History Month with the 1960 Greensboro Lunch Counter from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

On Feb. 1, 1960, four African American college students—Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil and David L. Richmond—sat down at this "whites only" lunch counter at the Woolworth's store in Greensboro, N.C., and politely asked for service. Their request was refused, and when asked to leave, the students remained in their seats in protest.

For the six months that followed, hundreds of students, civil rights organizations, churches and members of the community joined the protest and boycotted the store. Their commitment ultimately led to the desegregation of the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter July 25, 1960. Their peaceful sit-down was a watershed event in the struggle for civil rights and helped ignite a youth-led movement to challenge racial inequality throughout the South.

To learn more about freedom and justice in American history, visit the National Museum of American History’s “Separate is not Equal” online exhibition website.

This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is currently on display at the National Museum of American History; to learn more about it, visit the museum’s website.


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