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Greensboro Sit-ins - Launch of a Civil Rights Movement

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Movement by Negros Growing

Thursday, February 4, 1960.

No Service Given Students.

A sit-down effort started Monday by A&T College Students in an attempt to obtain lunch counter service at F.W. Woolworth's store here gained momentum yesterday.

At one time, Negro students filled 63 of 66 seats at the counter. The other seats were occupied by waitresses. No service was given.

More Negro students waited in the aisle to take the place of the students who left.


The day brought these developments:

  1. A statement of policy by a Woolworths' spokesman in New York.
  2. A statement from State Attorney General Malcolm Seawell in reply to a question by a Daily News reporter.
  3. Participation by Bennett College Students in what had been a movement by A&T students only.
  4. Moral support of the demonstration by several Greensboro College students who said they believed other students from white colleges might back the idea.
  5. The closing of a stand-up lunch bar where Negroes had been served until yesterday.

The New York spokesman for the store chain said it is the company's policy to "to abide by local custom."

The spokesman said no official word of the demonstration has been received in New York.
But the spokesman said if any group succeeds in changing the custom, "We will of course go along with that."

Seawell Comment

Seawell said that as far as he could determine, North Carolina has no law which would prohibit serving members of both races at a lunch counter. But on the other hand, he said he knew of no law which would force a private business to serve anybody it did not choose to serve.

As a matter of "custom which has existed for many years," a private businesman can serve or not serve people at his discretion, Seawell noted.

The three students from Greensboro College identified themselves as Lowell Lott of Washington, Ed Bryant of Richmond and Rick O'Neal of Greensboro.

Dr. Harold H. Hutson, Greensboro College president, said the students were acting as individuals and that their activities as individual citizens were not connected with the college.

A similar statement was made by an A&T official.

W.H. Gamble, dean of men at A&T, said the college has no authority to restrict students' private activities of this kind.

Both men and women students were involved in the demonstration.

Business at the luncheon counter came to a virtual standstill as waitresses ignored the Negro students.

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