Today in Civil Rights History: Ordinary Lunch Counter Made History at Greensboro Sit-In

Media 02.2,09

On February 1, 1960, four African American students made history when they sat down at a “whites-only” lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C.

This afternoon, I and two fellow LCCR/EF interns visited the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., to reflect on this historic event.

The museum display contains a section of the actual Woolworth’s lunch counter, the site of a sit-in and boycott that lasted nearly six months and brought national attention to segregation in the South.

Despite the historic impact of this protest, I found the lunch counter itself to be ordinary. Nevertheless, the lackluster seats provided context for introspection: I realized that the importance of the event did not stem from its location. Rather, the normalcy of the scene highlighted the uncommon accomplishment of the four individuals whose actions launched a fight for equality and inspired similar protests in 15 cities in nine states across the country.