The Greensboro Sit-InsFebruary 1, 1960A Catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement
1. “Picketing” Explanation A document describing reasons for picketing was included to show a type of non-violent protest, and could be a transition into the concept of a sit-in and then the Greensboro Sit-Ins specifically since that was a non-violent protest. This document can be used to gain greater insight into the reasoning behind non-violent protests and following the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. PicketingWhy we picket We do not picket …just because we want to eat. We can eat at home or walking down the street. …just because students in many other states are picketing. …to express our anger or resentment at anyone. …to humiliate or put anyone out of business. We do picket …to protest the lack of dignity and respect shown us as human beings. …to enlist the support of all (whatever their color) in getting services in business places that will grant us dignity and respect. …to help the businessman who will make changes that will bring us closer to the Christian and Democratic practices. Who can picket We welcome picketers of any race, high school age and beyond, only if they agree that under no circumstances will they resort to violence. We will use picketers only if they agree to go through a short course of instruction on picketing. Picketing will be done at stated hours and days decided by the Executive Committee and under the direction of a Picket Captain, trained for this work. Picketers must promise to obey the captain at all times. Remember-- the teachings of Jesus, who, “when reviled, revile not again.” Some dos and don’ts for picketers Do …walk slowly and quietly — at least four feet apart. …be careful to let anyone who wishes to enter to enter the place of business to do so. …refer all incidents or jostling, abuse by word, or anything of this nature to the picket captain. …be on time at the place set by the picket captain. …leave the place of picketing promptly on being relieved. Don’t …be boisterous, laugh or joke with other picketers or by-standers. …hold conversation with by-standers or the business owner. …leave the picket line without notifying the captain. …block the entrance or make it difficult for people to enter the business. …come to the picket line without being neatly dressed. …answer insult with insult, argument with argument, blow with blow, anger with anger. Remember the example and teachings of Martin Luther King who refused to hate anyone, but stood in love and firmness for human dignity and respect.
2. Photograph of the Greensboro Four:JibreelKhazan (Ezell Blair Jr.), Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond This photograph was taken on February 1, 1960 when the Greensboro Sit-Ins began. This picture and an article about the event was published in The Greensboro News-Record on February 2, 1960 and the newspaper continued to cover the story as news spread throughout Greensboro and the country. I chose to use this picture because it shows the exact picture of the Greensboro Four sitting at the lunch counter and their faces show that this was not a comfortable experience. I think that this picture also allows students to connect an idea and 4 names to actual people.
3. The Greensboro News-Record Newspaper Article Negro college students sit at Woolworth lunch counter By Marvin Sykes, Record Staff Writer A group of 20 Negro students from A&T College occupied luncheon counter seats, without being served, at the downtown F.W. Woolworth Co. Store late this morning — starting what they declared would be a growing movement. The group declared double that number will take place at the counters tomorrow. Employees of Woolworth did not serve the group and they sat from 10:30 a.m. until after noon. White customers continued to sit and get service. Clarence Harris, Woolworth manager, replied “No comment” to all questions concerning the “sit-down” move about Woolworth custom, and about what he planned to do. Today’s 20-man action followed the appearance at 4:30 p.m. yesterday of four freshmen from Scott Hall at A&T who sat down and stayed, without service, until the store closed at 5:30 p.m. Student spokesmen said they are seeking luncheon counter service, and will increase their numbers daily until they get it. Today’s group came in at 10:30 a.m. Each made a small purchase one counter over from the luncheon counter, then sat in groups of three or four as spaces became vacant. There was no disturbance and there appeared to be no conversation except among the groups. Some students pulled out books and appeared to be studying. The group today wrote to the president of Woolworth asking “a firm stand to eliminate this discrimination,” and signed the letter as members of the Student Executive Committee for Justice. Spokesmen Franklin McLain and Ezell Blair Jr., stated that the group is seeking luncheon counter service and will continue its push “several days, several weeks … until something is done.”
Within days, the protests would spread to the nearby Kress department store. Photo by Greensboro News & Record. Both declared the movement is a student one, with no backing from the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. They said they expect they could count on NAACP backing if needed. The move is not school connected, they added, but they hope to encourage more students to participate and hope that Bennett College students will join. Four leaders, who were at Woolworths yesterday and again today, were named as McLain, of Washington; Blair, of Greensboro; David Richmond, Greensboro, and Joseph McNeill, Wilmington, all freshmen. They said today’s groups came chiefly from Scott Hall at the college. Blair declared that Negro adults “have been complacent and fearful.” He declared “It is time for someone to wake up and change the situation… and we decided to start here.” McLain said no economic boycott is planned. “We like to spend our money here, but we want to spend it at the lunch counter as well as the counter next to it.” Dr. George C Simkins Jr., head of the local chapter of NAACP, said that organization had no knowledge of the movement prior to its arising spontaneously. He said the group is 100 per cent behind the idea, and “if any legal action arises as a result, the NAACP is prepared to back the group.”
The previous newspaper article was chosen to show what the media was reporting about right after the Greensboro Sit-Ins occurred. Newspapers were a popular source for information during the 1960s, so this would have been an article that a lot of people would have seen. Showing this newspaper article could spark a discussion on what we think other people’s reactions were to the sit-ins, before showing some of the primary sources still to come.
Audio RecordingsThese audio recordings were chosen to show the reactions of people involved in the movement who were not part of the “Greensboro Four.” These recordings show us opinions of other people in the community. 4. Warmoth T. Gibbs, Sr.
5. Geneva Tisdale http://www.sitins.com/warmothgibbs.shtml Warmoth T. Gibbs, Sr. was the president of N.C. A & T when the Greensboro Sit-Ins took place. He is quoted with saying that "we teach our students how to think, not what to think" in response to the sit-in events led by his students. Warmoth T. Gibbs, Sr. was proud of his students' protest but he also said that the police handled the situation well. http://www.sitins.com/multimedia.shtml Geneva Tisdale was the first African American to be served at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. Three women who worked at Woolworth’s were asked to be the first served to begin integration at the lunch counter. These audio recordings capture her memories of the experiences and what it meant to her.
6. 1972 InterviewDavid Richmond, one of the“Greensboro Four” Clay Carson: We will continue the conversation about what really happened on February 1. What events led up to the first sit-in? David Richmond: I guess you're aware of how fellows get together and have rap sessions after class. Each day, the four of us being roommates, we always got together and talked about the events that were occurring across the nation and the world. There were things going on in Africa. Things had already occurred in India that inspired us, Gandhi, Montgomery, Alabama, and these things. For the complete interview transcript, visit: http://library.uncg.edu/dp/crg/oralHistItem.aspx?i=671 This document was chosen to show the direct statements of a member of the Greensboro Four. This interview can be found online since it was transcribed, and even though the interview took place 12 years after the event, this is still a primary source since it is an interview with a participant in the event.
7. Chancellor Blackwell's speech to WCUNC students regarding the Greensboro sit-ins The Chancellor of Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (WCUNC), which is now known as The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) urged his students not to participate in the sit-ins or any similar protests for fear of bringing about violence or a negative perception of WCUNC.
This document shows that not all were supportive of the Greensboro Sit-ins when they were occurring, and it shows that even administrators of a university in Greensboro were worried about their students’ reputations for being involved. This document points out that there is almost always another side to history that we do not show or pretend does not exist, even when society generally agrees that the Civil Rights Movement was a good thing today.
8. International Civil Rights Center and Museum This picture was taken outside of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in downtown Greensboro after I toured the museum. I chose this picture because this highlights how important the Greensboro Sit-Ins were to the Civil Rights Movement and also shows what is being done today to honor that event. This picture could be used as an introduction into a “virtual tour” of the museum with other pictures, or this picture could be used to start a discussion of the museum and what to expect if the class were going to take a field trip to Greensboro.
Document and Image Credits 1. 5.4 Wanted: Picketers (Document). Records of the Office of Chancellor - William B. Aycock Series (#40020), University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 2. Photograph of the Greensboro Four. The Greensboro News-Record. February 2, 1960. TheGreensboro News-Record Website: Greensboro Sit-Ins: Launch of a Civil Rights Movement. www.sitins.com 3. Negro college students sit at Woolworth lunch counter. Written by Marvin Sykes, 1960. The Greensboro News-Record Website: Greensboro Sit-Ins: Launch of a Civil Rights Movement. www.sitins.com 4. Audio Recordings from Warmoth T. Gibbs, Sr. The Greensboro News-Record Website: Greensboro Sit-Ins: Launch of a Civil Rights Movement. http://www.sitins.com/warmothgibbs.shtml 5. Audio Recordings from Geneva Tisdale. The Greensboro News-Record Website: Greensboro Sit-Ins: Launch of a Civil Rights Movement.http://www.sitins.com/multimedia.shtml 6. Oral History Interview with David Richmond by Clay Carson Document. Civil Rights Greensboro . William Henry Chafe Oral History Collection, Duke University. Item# 4.23.671. 7. Chancellor Blackwell's speech to WCUNC students regarding the Greensboro sit-ins Document. Civil Rights Greensboro. Author: Gordon Williams Blackwell, Chancellor of WCUNC. Chancellor Gordon William Blackwell Records, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Item#: 1.8.246 8. International Civil Rights Center and Museum Photograph. Personal photograph taken March 5, 2010. Greensboro, NC.