Civil Rights Sit-In Demonstration, 1960


February 9, 1960, Charlotte, NC. The very first sit-in took place a week earlier in Greensboro, NC. The Charlotte sit-in was not well covered at the time, but it marked the fact that what had happened in Greensboro was spreading to other Southern cities. It was the college students from Johnson C. Smith University who took park in the sit-ins. These students also started picketing a downtown theatre to allow blacks to sit downstairs in the theater. The sit-ins had taken store management by surprise; the waitresses didn't know what to do and just faded away, leaving the students sitting at the counters. The students had told the chief of police what they were going to do in advance. The chief of police had promised to make no arrests if they did it in an orderly way and he kept his word; no police ever appeared at the Charlotte sit-ins and there were no arrests. After a few hours, the students left and the stores put up signs saying their lunch counters were temporarily closed. On July 3rd, the counters at Woolworth's were reopened to everyone.

Credit: Bruce Roberts / Science Source

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