On February 1, 1960, Four black students sit at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter, prompting the Greensboro sit-ins. The sit-ins were extremely important to the movement. They represented a shift in the mood of African Americans. We had already accepted segregation as the norm; now we were saying it wasn't acceptable.
Additionally, the Greensboro sit-ins brought attention to the fact that racial discrimination was still prevalent in many areas of life, including schools. Previously, the idea of fighting racism in all its forms would have been unthinkable to most blacks. But the sit-in participants showed that action can be taken even when there is no law against it. This idea would spread through the black community, leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Black people are able to integrate various aspects of their lives after the Montgomery bus boycott. School integration is one aspect that changes. Before the boycott, blacks didn't protest school segregation because they didn't think it could be changed. However, after blacks see successful boycotts taking place in other cities, they feel like it's possible to fight back against racist practices.
The Greensboro four make sure blacks across the country know about their campaign by sending letters to newspapers around the country.
The Nashville sit-ins, which took place from February 13 to May 10, 1960, were part of a nonviolent direct action campaign to remove racial segregation at downtown Nashville's lunch counters. The campaign was led by 16-year-old high school student Clifton Griffin, who had been inspired by the Birmingham protests.
Griffin and several other young people went into the three downtown restaurants where black citizens were not allowed: the Blue Plate Diner, the Carrolwood Cafe, and the Million Dollar View. They ordered food but refused to eat it while blacks were denied service at the other tables in the buildings. Instead, they sat silently at their meals, creating a scene that attracted attention from local media and activists across the country.
The police were called to break up the demonstrations on several occasions, but they always ended without any arrests being made. One night when police were about to arrest Griffin for trespassing, dozens of other protesters marched to City Hall to show their support for his cause. As soon as the police left, they disbanded the demonstration again.
Even though the sit-ins ended with no changes having been made to the policy of denying service to black customers, they had an impact outside Nashville. In fact, they helped spark a nationwide movement against racial discrimination that would change America forever.
The sit-in movement was a nonviolent civil rights campaign in the United States that began in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960. The sit-in, an act of civil disobedience, elicited support for the protestors from moderates and uninvolved people. The protesters sat down at segregated restaurants and lunch counters and refused to leave until they were served.
The first known use of the term "sit-in" occurred when African-American students at Columbia University protested by sitting down in front of the dean's office on February 23, 1960. The students were protesting their exclusion from many university activities because of race rules established before they entered school segregation. The students were told to leave or be expelled, and so they stayed.
The Greensboro sit-ins sparked similar protests across the country. They reached their peak activity between April and June 1960 with more than 1,500 incidents reported to have taken place nationwide. Sixty-five persons were arrested during these protests. Afterward, many institutions that had previously excluded blacks from their facilities allowed them to enter. However, some restaurants continued to refuse service to black patrons until 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requiring them to do so.
Although the violence that often accompanies racial tensions prevented the sit-in movement from being a major force for social change, it did attract considerable media attention at the time.
According to University of Alabama historian David Beito, African Americans in Montgomery "nurtured the modern civil rights movement." African Americans made up the majority of passengers on municipal buses, yet they were compelled to give up seats and even stand to make place for whites. In 1956, after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus, blacks began refusing to ride them, leading to more severe penalties. Blacks also formed a group called the Black Panther Party in 1966 to fight racism and police brutality.
The national attention brought upon by King's campaign led to many changes in Montgomery. The city's black community formed their own organization, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), which demanded equal access to public facilities like buses and restaurants. The association also threatened to sue the city if it didn't comply with King's demands. The threat worked: Within weeks, all signs of segregation on buses and in parks were removed.
Even though most white Montgomerians supported King's efforts, some businesses decided not to do business with blacks after learning that they had boycotted the city's buses. Many whites also protested against King's tactics and joined forces with the city commission to defeat his campaign. However, because of the association between blacks and communism, many people believed that supporting King's cause would get them labeled as communist sympathizers.