Woolworth Sit In Essay

1012 words - 5 pages

The Jim Crow laws had a large impact on American history. For years African Americans had to live under a law that separated them from the rest of the white population. These laws made African Americans outcasts and forced them to be low class members of society. The law considered them “Separate but equal” but indeed they were not. African Americans were discriminated against all over the United States. They weren’t allowed to drink from the same water fountains or ride the same seats on the bus. They were usually given lesser quality versions of whatever their white counterparts had. These Jim Crow laws were strictly enforced in many southern areas and punishment for breaking the law could be very severe. Blacks in the United States lived under these laws for generations until a series of protests and movements helped redefine what equality really is. One of these protests took place in the city of Greensboro, North Carolina, when African American college students took a stand for their equality. They peacefully demonstrated that they would no longer be discriminated against and wanted to be treated as equal as anyone else.
On February 1, 1960, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, David Richmond, and Ezell Blair Jr, all walked into a Woolworth store in Greensboro North Carolina. The young men browsed the store like many of them had done before. They purchased items like toothpaste and school supplies at the front register with ease. The “Greensboro Four” as they would later be called, were fully aware of the store’s “whites only” policy. The boys tested the policy as they were leaving the store. They walked to the lunch counter, sat down, and ordered coffee and doughnuts. They were immediately refused service just as they expected. Instead of getting up and leaving like they were expected to do, they continued to sit. They sat peacefully and refused to move until they were given service. The manager of the store instructed them to leave as was required by law, but the boys didn’t budge. According to an interview with Franklin McCain, the police were called and arrived on the scene shortly. Franklin described the officer pacing up and down the lunch counter behind the boys’ backs. The peacekeeper was holding his nightstick as if ready to strike, but the boys remained peaceful and suborn. February 1st only lasted so long and the boys had to leave as the store closed: they politely did.
February 2nd, 1960 the boys came back, but this time they arrived with as many as 24 more African American classmates. These students were inspired by what “the Greensboro Four” had started the day before and joined the peaceful fight. They sat at the lunch counter and were refused service as usual. They all held their ground. Days after, more and more protesters came to the store and took up stools at the counter. The protesters took turns at the counter, they brought books to read and study to keep themselves busy, while often times being taunted and threatened....

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