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How the Greensboro Four Sit-In Sparked a Movement

In an effort to celebrate Black History Month, NC Voices is highlighting prominent Black leaders from North Carolina, who have shaped our state through their contributions to arts, sciences, politics, and more.

On this day 61 years ago, four North Carolina A&T students held the first major sit-in of the Civil Rights Movement at Greensboro’s Woolworth lunch counter. Jibreel Khazan, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and David Richmond’s sit-in was a watershed event in the struggle for civil rights, as their nonviolent action helped ignite a youth-led movement that challenged racial inequality nationwide.

  • The Sit-In Movement would spread to 55 cities in 13 states, paving the way for integration across the deeply divided south.
  • As demonstrations spread to 13 states, the focus of the sit-ins expanded, with students not only protesting segregated lunch counters but also segregated hotels, beaches and libraries.
  • “The movement was “about simple dignity, respect, access, equal opportunity, and most importantly the legal and constitutional concerns,” said Prairie View A&M University History Professor Will Guzmán

The sit-in movement is our history, and a reminder of the importance of speaking up against injustice, white supremacy, and inequality — especially right now

This month, we celebrate the courageous actions of the Greensboro Four, the hundreds of Black leaders and activists who have helped paved the way for a more fair and equal society. 

May we continue to speak out against the systemic racism and legacy of centuries of disinvestment and discrimination that cause Black Americans to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and police brutality — just as millions of people of all races, colors, and creeds did so last year. 

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