An Unforgettable Lunch – Or Not

As I understand things, after the Montgomery Bus Boycott ended in 1956, nothing happened in terms of notable Civil Rights protests until February, 1960. Then, four young men from North Carolina A & T State took a stand. Well, actually, they sat down – at a lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in Greensboro, NC. They asked to be served lunch, but were refused on account of their race. Through this act, these four men, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, and David Richmond started a wave of similar sit-in protests that spread throughout the south. Today we got to see the actual lunch counter where this happened. I don’t have a photo of it, because the people who run that museum do not allow photos. But, here is the outside of the building:

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The Greesboro four did not run into any huge amount of trouble on that day, but they returned the next day, and this time there were reinforcements. Eventually, in the days and weeks following, hundreds of NC A&T students joined them. There were angry confrontations with white customers. Local high school students continued the protest during the summer when the college students had gone home. Eventually the lunch counter had to shut down due to the overwhelming number of protesters.

The rest of the former Woolworth’s has been turned in to a museum with a lot of exhibits on the Movement. Fortunately, we now know most of the facts of the Movement, because we would have had a hard time learning them through the exhibits at this museum. They offer a one-hour guided tour, during which the guide tells you information but does not give you time to read and interact with the displays. We thought we would go back through after the guided part. I went back just to look again at the lunch counter, and I was warned that this was frowned upon. E went back into the displays and got into a bit of an argument with the guard. She was escorted out! Of all the museums we’ve visited, this is the only one we’ve been disappointed in.

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