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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Anniversary of Greensboro Sit-Ins Highlights Continued Fight for Civil and Human Rights

February 1, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Fifty years ago today, four students from all-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, N.C., walked into a Woolworth five-and-dime with the intention of ordering lunch even though there was a strict whites-only policy at the lunch counter.

The tactic was simple; Black and White civil rights advocates sat at lunch counters and waited to be served. The stores refused to serve them, and the students were arrested and hauled off to jail, sometimes after being beaten and spat on by White mobs.  The tactic became known as a "sit-in," and in the 1960s, tens of thousands of students across the South were doing it — protesting Jim Crow segregation laws that discriminated against African-American citizens.

The story of the Greensboro Sit-In is attracting renewed attention because a new museum, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, opens today in the old Woolworth building, the site of this historic sit-in.

The anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in, which coincides with the first day of Black History Month, gives the nation an opportunity to not only look back but to also look forward at the continuing struggle for civil and human rights in the United States.  The Leadership Conference recently sent a letter to Congress outlining critical civil and human rights concerns that must be addressed in 2010, including targeted job creation in hardest-hit communities, reforming the financial system to better protect consumers, and comprehensive immigration reform. 

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