The Greensboro Four
February 1, 1960 - This was the day that four black students, Ezell A. Blair Jr. , Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, took their seats at a segregated lunch counter in the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth's store.
The men asked for coffee and doughnuts. The counter seats were reserved for whites only, so the waitress refused to serve them, but store manager Clarence Harris allowed the men to stay in their seats - hoping they would leave without making too big a fuss.
As time dragged on Harris called the police. Nobody was arrested, but the presence of police officers raised the tension in the store. When the store closed, the men got up and left.
The next day the four men returned, and this time they were joined by a few friends from their college, N.C. A & T. Again they were refused service, so they spent the time reading and doing school work. On this second day the local media showed up with newspaper and T.V. reporters to cover the event.
On the third day, more than 60 students took shifts at the counter. The Ku Klux Klan also made its presence known, as its members heckled and harassed the protesters.
By the fourth day of the "sit in" (as it was being called) the number of protesters swelled to over 300, including white students from the Greensboro Womens College (now UNCG).
Franklin McCain would later tell the story of an old white woman who walked up to the counter and put her hands on his shoulders saying:
Boys, I am so proud of you. You should have done this 10 years ago.
On February 6, the crowd at the store was now pouring into the street. Tensions were extremely high as shouting matches took place between the protesters and angry whites. A bomb threat was called in and the store was evacuated and closed. It didn't open for another 2 weeks and by that time similar protests were happening across the state in cities like Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte. Soon they would spread to other southern cities, like Richmond and Chattanooga.
On July 26, 1960, the Greensboro Woolworth's officially ended its policy of a segregated lunch counter. A few years later, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed the practice.