What Was Life Like In 1960?

7:32 PM, Jan 27, 2010   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- All this week, we're taking a look back at the Civil Rights Movement, sparked by four A&T students who sat at the Greensboro Woolworth's lunch counter.

In the 19-60's, people were treated differently because of the color of their skin.

The segregation of the era led the four students to do what they thought was necessary for equality.

"Life in the sixties basically, it was sort of an unwritten law that you knew what your place was. That, you knew that the blacks did not associate with whites on a social point of view, on a social level, as such and specifically didn't eat at restaurants together and didn't go to school together," remembered sit-in participant Clarence Henderson.

"It was against the law for black people to sit at a restaurant to sit in the front of a bus," says Sit-In Movement, Inc. Co-Founder Earl Jones.

Many people believed the segregation was wrong, but most didn't challenge it.

"They were onlookers. Not only blacks, but whites too. They just didn't want to get involved," recalls Frank Richmond, brother of original sit-in participant David Richmond.

Life could be dangerous for those, especially blacks, who didn't follow the rules.

"We were safe as long as we stayed in our community, but when we went outside of our community to downtown, I had to cross over other communities to reach a black community, we were exposed to the crushing sounds of segregation, the harassment, called names, things thrown at us. Spit at, it was demoralizing to have to go through those types of things," said Richmond. "We had one theatre that was a desirable one, but we had to go in the side door and sit in the balcony."

Four North Carolina A&T State University students decided to do something about the inequality they faced.

"We'd just been armchair revolutionaries, I mean just sitting and talking, and talking, and talking. And we didn't like the feeling that we got from that and decided that we had too much of a legacy in our families to sit and be comfortable and do nothing," remembers original sit-in participant Franklin McCain.

They knew they would be successful only if they kept their protest non-violent.

"This served as a catalyst for so many other major sit-ins and other kinds of demonstrations that were each non-violent. But it created a model that people embraced and replicated," says International Civil Rights Center and Museum Executive Director, Amelia Parker.

WFMY News 2

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