Saturday, March 28, 2009

Woolworth's Lunch Counter

Remember the Woolworth lunch counter? I'm not talking about grilled cheese and fries.
I am talking about the famous protest on February 1, 1960.
In Greensboro, North Carolina. Four African American college students sat down at the whites only lunch counter to order food. They were refused and asked to leave. The students remained in their seats which forced the store to close early. That event started a youth-led movement in the South against racial inequality.
That protest was effective due to the fact that the students were non-violent, respectful, and dressed in their Sunday clothes. As the protests became larger, some students even brought their books to study at the lunch counter.
Hundreds of students in Greensboro, churches and community members joined together for a 6 month long protest. These protests led to the desegregation of the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter on July 25,1960.
Protests such as these led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed racial segregation in public accommodations.
Geneva Tisdale was working that day. After the desegregation of the lunch counter, Geneva and 2 co-workers were chosen to be the first African Americans to eat lunch at the counter. Thirty years later, Geneva was still behind that counter until the day that Woolworth closed.
A small section of this lunch counter was donated to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.


Cindy said...


I would be glad to see you at my Facebook account, too; go to my blog, Gherkins & Tomatoes," at; I think we're about the same age! Born 1950.

Always happy to find people who lived through those heady days, you know.

George Polley said...

Yes, Lilac, I remember that very well. I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois and a civil rights advocate, which was not a popular thing to be in the small town I lived in, which was a "sundown town". Your article brings back a lot of memories.

Tina said...

Hi, nice blog and I love what you said about yourself, "once a hippie, always a hippie." Cool attitude!
Keep up it :)

shazartist said...

Woolworth's Lunch counter! what an interesting piece or Peace in American History.

My memory's of the Woolworth's lunch counter in the early 50's, or in Australia we called it Cafeteria, was my day out with my grand mother..they had the best baked egg custard in a ceramic bowl.

We did not have segregation.

Corker2 said...

You bet, Lilac. I remember this, but not all that well. However, what I do remember is when my Mother used to travel down into Tennessee and seeing bathrooms that said "White Only." I also remember going into a store in Greenville, TN with a sign that said "Colored Entrance in the Rear." They stay with me to this day.