Spreading of the Sit-Ins

The preceding morning twenty-nine students, both male and female from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical, joined the Greensboro Four and sat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.  The protest grew even more on Wednesday, and on Thursday, the students from A&T were accompanied by white students who went to a nearby women’s college.  The sit-ins spread to other stores in Greensboro and flocks of students were mobbing other local lunch counters.  As the protests grew larger, a crowd of white men grew angrier.  These white men began showing up at lunch counters to harass the protesters.  They would often by spit, use abusive and derogatory language, and even threw eggs at the protesting students.  During one event, a protester had his coat set on fire, which resulted in the white man getting arrested.
The protests went on everyday that week.  By Saturday, the Greensboro Four had attracted fourteen hundred students, all of which arrived at the Greensboro Woolworth’s store.  The students who could not get a seat at the lunch counter formed protest lines outside the store.  One day, a phoned-in bomb threat ended the protest early.  However, by the following week sit-ins were occurring at Woolworth’s stores in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Durham.  Soon other segregated lunch counters at many other department stores became targets of these protests.

For the most part, the police departments kept quiet throughout the sit-ins.  The protesters were not harassed by the police department, however they took action when situations turned violent.  Throughout the state of North Carolina, no protesters were prosecuted until a large group of forty-one protesting black students in Raleigh were caught trespassing at the Cameron Village Woolworth's.

Regardless of the arrests that were made, progress was increasing.  African-Americans were soon allowed to eat with whites at the same lunch counters.  By the end of February 1960, both blacks and whites were able to eat together at the S.H. Kress store in Greensboro.  In Raleigh, some businesses resulted in closing their lunch counters altogether to end protests.  Even though desegregation was not permitted right away in most stores, the sit-ins did prove to be successful.   The sit-ins forced partial integration and they increased awareness across the entire nation of how badly African-Americans were treated in the South. 

The 1960 Greensboro sit-in proved to be one of the most effective and successful protests of the civil rights movement.  Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond all formed this movement without attaining legal action or the help of any association.  Their strong perseverance changed segregation as we know it today, all in the matter of one month.

Timeline of the Greensboro Sit-Ins

February 1, 1960:

North Carolina A&T State University students, Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond go to F.W. Woolworth’s and make small purchases near the lunch bar. They take seats at the lunch counter where only whites were allowed to sit.  When requested service, they were denied, but continued to stay seated until the Woolworth store closed early, at 5:30pm.

February 2, 1960:

The four boys return and sit at the white's only lunch counter at Woolworth's.  They were joined by reporters and local TV news crews.  By the next day, protests had spread to High Point, North Carolina due to the heavy television coverage.

February 3, 1960:

When Woolworth's opened, students were running to find a seat at the lunch counter.  However, the blacks were accompanied by a growing number of whites who insult the protesters.  The protest is now nationally televised and the protests spread to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

February 4, 1960:

Female students from Bennett College and three white students from Greensboro Women’s College join the sit-in.  The protests begin to hurt business at Woolworth’s and other nearby department stores.

February 5, 1960:

The protests at Woolworth's has reached over 300 students.  The movement spreads across the country to nearly forty other cities.

February 6, 1960:

Woolworth is filled with over 1,400 protesters and observers.  Kress department store, near Woolworth's is now a part of the sit-in bringing Greensboro to nearly a standstill. Woolworth’s and Kress receive phoned-in bomb threats and close their stores early.

February 7, 1960:

Store officials are given a chance to comply when A&T students vote to suspend demonstrations.  The businesses fail to comply and students resume the sit-in.

July 26, 1960:

The lunch counter at Woolworth’s is integrated.