Greensboro, NC -- After years of anticipation, the doors of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum openedto the public.
February 1, 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the sit-in of four NC A&T students. Ezell Blair, Jr., David Richmond, Joseph McNeil and Franklin McCain sat at a segregated lunch counter at Woolworths in downtown Greensboro.
The men stayed, even though they were not served. The event prompted similar sit-ins across the state and country.
Winter Weather Clean-up
Areas of downtown Greensboro were closed Sunday afternoon for crews to setup for Monday morning's events.
A snow storm moved into the Triad Friday evening, threatening the conditions for Monday morning. Several events leading up to the opening were postponed or canceled due to the weather. The museum hired crews to prepare and dry the sidewalks around the area.
The City of Greensboro also brought in additional crews to help prepare the sidewalks around the Civil Rights Museum area. The city's cost for the clean-up is estimated at $19,000.
Before The Opening
WFMY News 2 is live from the Civil Rights Museum for an extended newscast throughout the morning.
Philip Jones showed us the layout downtown and what crews have prepared for the morning. Jumbotrons were setup for attendees to see the events throughout the streets. He spoke with several people waiting in line with a hot drink in their hands to be part of history.
TWITTER: Philip tweets with updates, pictures from downtown
Tracey McCain interviewed several guests inside the annual NC A&T breakfast including Franklin McCain and Rev. Jesse Jackson. The breakfast is usually held on the school's campus, but organizers moved it to the Empire Room downtown to be feet away from the museum's ribbon cutting ceremony.
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During The Ceremony
The event opened at 8:00 am with a song by the Peay Brothers and a prayer by Rev. Jesse Jackson.
AGENDA: See the full schedule of events
Greensboro Mayor Bill Knight spoke about the city's pride to host the museum. He says he hopes the museum will attract many young minds who will change the world in the future. He also invited former mayor Yvonne Johnson to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Governor Bev Perdue noted the decisions the four NC A&T students made paved the way for her to become governor. She said for everyone to remember the work that happened in the Woolworth building is not finished and everyone must continue to work on universal civil rights.
Senator Kay Hagan, a Greensboro native, took the stage as a representative of the White House. She shared her pride in being from the city and her efforts to secure funding for the museum during her office in state senator. She also spoke about her works to get proper compensation for African-American farmers in North Carolina.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez was present on behalf of President Barack Obama. He said there is still work to be done in the realm of bigotry and discrimination. Glass ceilings for women, slum lords in the real estate market and substandard classrooms are just a few of the efforts where discrimination is still seen, Perez mentioned.
Franklin McCain, one of the four original sit-in participants, reminded everyone to take pride and joy in their lives, but more than anything "take charge."
About The Museum
Museum hours will be 10:00 until 6:00 Tuesday through Saturday and 1:00 until 5:00 pm on Sunday.
Admission will be $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and $4 for children over six-years-old.
The museum also includes two meeting facilities. The 172-seat auditorium is an audio visual room with space for speakers and special guests.
Exhibit space for the museum totals 30,000 square feet, with an additional 10,000 square feet for offices, conference rooms and administration space.
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WFMY News 2