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Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Greensboro sit-in Lunch Counter

Greensboro sit-in lunch counter

Greensboro sit-in Lunch Counter

This 4-seat section of what used to be the “Whites Only” lunch counter from the Woolworth department store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is part of the Civil Rights history that was made in 1960. It is at this lunch counter where four black students sat down and were refused service when they asked for a cup of coffee. Following store policy, the Lunch Counter staff refused to serve the black men at the “whites only” counter, and the store manager asked them to leave.

The four freshmen stayed until the store closed that night. The next day and the following days, more black students joined the sit-ins. With national publicity, the sit-in movement then spread to other Southern cities and lasted for nearly six months from February 1 – July 25, 1960. Students also began a boycott of stores with segregated lunch counters, and sales dropped by a third, leading their owners to abandon the segregation policies soon after. Most shops were eventually desegregated.

Over 70,000 people took part in the sit-ins. Sit-ins protested segregation at swimming pools, libraries, transportation, museums, art galleries, parks, and beaches. The media picked up this issue and covered the Sit-ins nationwide. By highlighting such practices, the students played a significant part in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Greensboro sit-ins were not the first sit-in of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the Greensboro sit-ins were the most famous and widely publicized sit-ins. The Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth store, is now the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, where the rest of the Lunch Counter sits on display.

Greensboro sit-in Lunch Counter

  • Title:                        Greensboro sit-in Lunch Counter
  • Original location:     Woolworth, 132 South Elm Street, Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Event Date:              February 1, 1960
  • Museum:                  National Museum of American History

A Tour of the National Museum of American History

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Martin Luther King


Photo Credit: User:RadioFan [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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