The First Sit-In
Segregation was a way of life in large parts of America. African Americas were treated as second class citizens and were regulated to dine in the worst areas of restaraunts, sit in the back of buses or not allowed to sit or mingle with their white neighbors at all. Jim Crow era laws made such things legal and it was a normal way of life. While there had been some political gains for African Americans in the 1950's, there was a young generation of young people who felt that the movement was going too slow. They wanted changes to come faster and began protesting in the form of sit-in's. The tone of the modern U.S. civil rights movement changed at a North Carolina department store in 1960, when four African American students participated in a “sit-in” at a whites-only lunch counter. 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 US.