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Responses from the Other Side

In 1960, Martin Luther King and groups such as the NAACP had forged a path of resistance using non violent protests as the standard to make changes to the segregational policies in large parts of America. There was never a question that these non violent protests were to be used. The question of when and where the protests should take place was the general debate.1 The younger participants of these meetings were very adamant that the time to act was now and chose to walk into Woolworth's, sit quietly at the lunch counter and wait to be served. Although their actions were non violent, the response to the young men were the opposite. The 1960 Greensboro sit-ins were typical. Activists sat at segregated lunch counters in an act of defiance, refusing to leave until being served and willing to be ridiculed, attacked, and arrested if they were not. It drew resistance but it forced the desegregation of Woolworth’s department store. It prompted copycat demonstrations across the South. The protests offered evidence that student-led direct action could enact social change and established the civil rights movement’s direction in the forthcoming years.2

Not everyone was happy with the changing times in the country. Many White Southerners who had been raised in the era of segregation were against the Civil Rights Movement stating that people had a right not to serve people at their businessess and restaraunts and schools. The police brutally disrupted protests by hosing them down with fire hoses, having police dogs attack the people, arrests, violent beatings among other things. This did not deter the protests, the protests rather grew larger and moved to different parts of the country, North and South.

1. Helen Tuller "We Are All So Very Happy, Helen Tuller Reports on the Southern Sit-In's", The new Republic {April 25, 1960}

2. The American Yawp - The Civil Rights Movement Continues Chapter 27, Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–1963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.

Responses from the Other Side