The Greensboro Four were four young black men who staged the first sit-in at Greensboro: Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain, and Joseph McNeil. All four were students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College.
On February 1, 1960, the four students sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, where the official policy was to refuse service to anyone but whites. Denied service, the four young men refused to give up their seats.
Police arrived on the scene but were unable to take action due to the lack of provocation. By that time, Johns had already alerted the local media, who had arrived in full force to cover the events on television. The Greensboro Four stayed put until the store closed, then returned the next day with more students from local colleges.
They were influenced by the non-violent protest techniques practiced by Mohandas Gandhi, as well as the Freedom Rides organized by the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) in 1947, in which interracial activists rode across the South in buses to test a recent Supreme Court decision banning segregation in interstate bus travel.
The former Woolworth's in Greensboro now houses the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which features a restored version of the lunch counter where the Greensboro Four sat. Part of the original counter is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
"Let's all sit together as human beings should."
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