‘Greensboro Four’ members recall sit-in that changed history

A group of four black students made history in Greensboro 58 years ago.

Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and David Richmond, known as The Greensboro Four, staged a peaceful protest at a lunch counter at Woolworth’s on Feb. 1, 1960.

The area was designated “For Whites Only.”

The four men were denied service, but sat at the counter until the store closed early at 5 p.m.

“I talked to my mom. I said, ‘Mom, I might be going to jail,'” Joseph McNeil recalled. “She said, ‘Why would you say something like that? What have you done? I didn’t send you to that school in North Carolina to go to jail. What’s this about?’ I said, ‘We’re doing what you taught us to do. To take a stand for what’s right.’”

The next day, 25 men and four women joined the sit-in, but the movement gained national attention. More than 1,000 people participated in the protest over the next four days.

Similar demonstrations took place in 55 cities across 13 states.

The sit-in played a crucial part in the civil rights movement.

Ezell Blair Jr., now known as Jibreel Khazan, spoke of the importance of understanding and compassion.

“Some people say, ‘You’re crazy,” he said. “I say, ‘I’m not crazy.’ I’m living because I learned the ways of compromise with the way of truth.”

Woolworth’s lunch counter served its first black customers on July 25, 1960. The counter officially became desegregated the next day.

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