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Greensboro Sit-ins - Launch of a Civil Rights Movement

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Key Players

Geneva Tisdale

A native of South Carolina, she worked at the Woolworth Store from 1951, until 1993 when the closing of the South Elm Street store forced her to retire. By the closing, Tisdale was the only employee left who had been there on Feb. 1, 1960. She also was pregnant that year. As the sit-ins progressed, when the atmosphere grew tense, Tisdale's boss sent her home. She had the baby and returned to work before the sit-ins ended. When the counter was finally integrated, the manager of the lunch counter chose Tisdale and two other kitchen workers to be the first black people to eat a sit-down meal there.

Tisdale said that at the start of the sit-ins, she had no strong feelings about what the demands of the N.C. A&T State University students. Segregation was the only way of life she had ever known, and she accepted it. But she said she came to admire and to sympathize with the students. Still, she says, Curly Harris, the store manager who is often portrayed as the villain of the sit-ins, always treated her kindly and fairly. She says she enjoyed her years with Woolworth and misses the store.

Audio (MP3's)

What happened the first day(2:34)
It was tense and it scared me (1:04)
Sit-ins caused Woolworth to close (:53)
Geneve is the first to eat in the integrated Woolworth (2:58)
"I was proud" to be the first (1:27)
Tisdale's dream goes unfulfilled (2:06)

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