Lunch in Greensboro, NC
On February 1, 1960, four college students sat down at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. One had seen Ghandi's "passive resistance" in films and heard Dr. Martin Luther King call for nonviolent protests two years earlier.
The lunch counter was segregated. They sat as an act of defiance, and now that lunch counter is the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. These four men sparked what is now known as one of the early instrumental actions in the Civil Rights Movement.
At first, lunch counter owners Woolworth issued a statement saying it would "abide by local custom" and continue refusing lunch counter service to blacks. But on July 25, after business dropped dramatically, they served three protestors. The gesture marked a symbolic end to segregation at five and dime counters throughout the South, although some were still “whites only” until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when desegregation was mandated.
One protestor recalls: “We just kept sitting there. We would line up behind the stools and when one student would get up another would sit down." Photo: Library of Congress