Archive for February 1st, 2008

01
Feb
08

On This Day 2-1-08: F. W. Woolworth; Greensboro, North Carolina

1790 – The U.S. Supreme Court convened for the first time in New York City.

1793 – France declared war on Britain and Holland.

1861 – Texas voted to secede from the Union.

1893 – Thomas A. Edison completed work on the world’s first motion picture studio in West Orange, NJ.

1900 – Eastman Kodak Co. introduced the $1 Brownie box camera.

1913 – Grand Central Station opened in New York City, NY. It was the largest train station in the world.

1946 – Norwegian statesman Trygve Lie was chosen to be the first secretary-general of the United Nations.

1951 – The first telecast of an atomic explosion took place.

1958 – The United Arab Republic was formed by a union of Egypt and Syria. It was broken 1961.

1960 – Four black college students began a sit-in protest at a lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. They had been refused service.

1968 – During the Vietnam War, South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executed a Viet Cong officer with a pistol shot to the head. The scene was captured in a news photograph.

1979 – Patty Hearst was released from prison after serving 22 months of a seven-year sentence for bank robbery. Her sentence had been commuted by U.S. President Carter.

1994 – Jeff Gillooly plead guilty in Portland, OR, for his role in the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. Gillooly, Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, struck a plea bargain under which he confessed to racketeering charges in exchange for testimony implicating Harding.

2003 – NASA’s space shuttle Columbia exploded while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. All seven astronauts on board were killed.

Greensboro Lunch Counter

Greensboro Lunch Counter in the Separate Is Not Equal exhibition

In 1960, if you were African American, you were not allowed to sit here—the lunch counter at the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Racial inequality pervaded American life. Throughout the South, a racist system known as “Jim Crow” segregated people in restaurants, restrooms and most other accommodations. When African Americans tried to find a house or apartment, register to vote, or even order lunch, they were denied equal rights. The Woolworth’s in the Greensboro, like other stores in the community, refused to seat and serve African Americans at the luncheonette.

On Feb. 1, 1960, four African American students sat down at this counter and asked for service. Their request was refused.

When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil and David L. Richmond were all enrolled at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College. Their “passive sit-down demand” began the first sustained sit-in and ignited a youth-led movement to challenge injustice and inequality throughout the South.

In Greensboro, hundreds of students, civil rights organizations, churches and members of the community joined in a six-month-long protest. They challenged the company’s policy of racial discrimination by sitting at the counter, and, later, organizing an economic boycott of the store. Their defiance heightened many Americans’ awareness of racial injustice and ultimately led to the desegregation of F.W. Woolworth lunch counter on July 25, 1960.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/news/factsheet.cfm?key=30&newskey=53

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