Planning the Sit-In


Whose Idea Was The Sit-In?

For the most part, it was all four freshman's idea.  Ezell Blair Jr. knew a man named John Irvin who was very involved in the NAACP and he had little impact on the sit-in.  He was in the Woolworth store the day of the movement to look over the boys and support them.  The "Greensboro Four" all say that they didn't trust adults and didn't want them to be involved in their idea.

Why Did They Do It?

The four boys decided to go through with the sit-in because they used to always sit around in one of their dorm rooms together at A&T and talk about how they all wanted to do something about segregation.  They say that they would criticize their parents, the community and the school administration for not doing anything about it.  McCain finally spoke up to the other three boys and told them that they weren't any better than anyone else because there was nothing unique about what they were doing.  The boys eventually grew tired of criticizing everyone else and decided to take their own stance.  The four college boys said that nothing big happened between 1955 - 1960 and that things were fairly calm.  However, they got a lot of their inspiration from Little Rock Nine, where troops from the Arkansas National Guard would not let the black students enter the school in Arkansas.  Blair, McCain, McNeil and Richmond all felt that this movement was by far more meaningful than the King's movement because it was a local movement that only affected people in Montgomery, Alabama.


"It was done on a dare"

Franklin McCain said in an interview taken in 2007 that the sit-in was "made on a dare more than anything else."  He explained that McNeil was the one who initiated the sit-in and proclaimed that they were doing the sit-in that following day.  The four boys were sitting in the dorm room together at 1am on a Monday morning talking and they had all had enough and were fed up with segregation.  McCain said that they all felt like hypocrites because they always sat around discussing the situation and not taking matter into their own hands.  "Let's just do it tomorrow" McNeil said.  The three other boys agrees that they would join in and so the sit-in at F.W. Woolworth occurred the following day on February 1, 1960. 

The Incident That Sparked The Sit-In

When the four boys were coming back to A&T after Christmas break, McNeil had an incident at the bus terminal and told his roommate, Ezell Blair Jr., and the other two boys about what had happened.  As McNeil was trying to get on the bus, people told him that he had better wait until all of the whites had gotten on the bus before he could get on.  They also made crude and insulting comments to him.  This incident just so happened to rekindle the fire all over again and that is when McNeil knew something was to be done.

Why Woolworth?

Blair, McCain, McNeil and Richmond thought that they needed to go to a place that had a dichotomy in the treatment of people.  They were all aware that you could go into a Woolworth above the Mason Dixon line to sit down for lunch or a snack.  However, in Greensboro, this was forbidden and blacks were not allowed to do so.  Therefore, these four college boys wanted to attack a place that showed bias simply because of their color and the location.

"What is going to happen?"

The "Greensboro Four" boys were not afraid the night before the sit-in.  They said that they were more anxious than anything.  McCain said that he laid in bed wondering to himself about what was going to happen the next day.  He said they were all prepared mentally to not ever return back to their campus.  These boys also expected to get arrested and go to jail that day.