Greensboro Sit-ins - Launch of a Civil Rights Movement

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The Greensboro Four

Dr. Gordon Blackwell

Chancellor of Woman's College, 1960

W.H. Gamble

A&T's Dean of Men, 1960

Warmoth T. Gibbs Sr.

A&T president during the sit-ins. During the sit-ins in 1960, city leaders asked Gibbs to keep students on campus. Gibbs replied, "We teach our students how to think, not what to think."

Roy Graham

A&T student involved in protest, 1960

Rev. John Hatchett

Adviser to some Bennett students at the school's NAACP chapter during the sit-ins. Hatchett believes the original four got the idea for the sit-ins from talks at Bennett. However, the remaining members of the group say this was not the case.

Dr. Willa B. Player

President of Bennett College from 1955 until 1966. She rejected plans by several Bennett College students to stage a sit-in in November 1959 because the Christmas holidays would have interrupted the efforts.

Bennett College students who participated

  • Hermine Bacote Albea
  • Mary Ellen Bender: White student at Bennett; participated in sit-ins
  • Janice Robinson Bragg
  • Shirley Bruton Callis
  • Robbie Hamlett Dancy
  • Sarah Frances Davis
  • Carolyn Cotten Gaither
  • Sandra Downing Hamilton
  • Margaret Jean Neff: White student at Bennett; participated in sit-ins
  • Willie Mae Johnson-Jones
  • Mattilyn Talford Rochester
  • Catherine Rink Williams
  • loria Eugenia Brown Wise: First woman to participate in the Woolworth sit-ins. After graduation from Bennett, Wise earned a master's degree in social work from Columbia and is now (1980) the assistant to the director of the Spofford Juvenile Center in New York. Lives in Bronx, N.Y.
  • JoAnn Zivad

Woman's College students who joined for a day

  • Ann Dearsley: senior from Raleigh
  • Marilyn Lott: junior from Falls Church, Va.
  • Genie Seaman: sophomore from Altamonte Spring, Fla.


The Greensboro Four

Gordon Carey

Executive of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality, founded in 1942) in New York

James Farmer

Former national director of CORE. Farmer and his organization provided encouragement and support for the sit-ins once they got under way, and the group was active in 1963, when A&T and Bennett students again demonstrated against segregation.

Jesse Jackson

One of the best-known civil rights leaders in America, he is often incorrectly connected to the sit-ins of 1960. Jackson, then a student at Illinois, transferred to A&T that fall and led a series of demonstrations in 1963 as student body president.

Ralph Johns

He opened a clothing store on East Market Street, which attracted many A&T students as customers, including the Greensboro Four. He is thought to have encouraged the students to challenge segregation and to have tipped off the press on the first day of the sit-ins at Woolworth.

Dr. George Simkins Jr.

Longtime civil rights activist and Greensboro dentist, he was president of the local NAACP chapter from 1959 until 1984. In 1955, he and several other black men were arrested for trespassing after they played nine holes at the all-white, municipal Gillespie Park Golf Course.


Charles O. Bess

Former busboy at Woolworth's. Worked the day of the original sit-ins and throughout the sit-ins at Woolworth.

Rev. Cecil Bishop

Former chairman of the Greensboro Human Relations Commission and was active for 15 years in the civil rights movement.

Ima Edwards

When she retired in 1993 from Woolworth, she was one of only two employees still working at the South Elm store who was there on Feb. 1, 1960. At the time of the sit-ins, Edwards ran the bakery counter.

Clarence L. "Curly" Harris

Manager of the Woolworth Store during the sit-ins.

Dr. Hobart Jarrett

President of Greensboro City Association, 1960

Boyd Morris

Owned segregated Mayfair Cafeteria on North Elm Street, 1960. Died April 1995.

William A. Thomas Jr.

A&T student and president of the local chapter of Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), 1960

Geneva Tisdale

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.

Greensboro Council of Church Women

The group that supported the sit-ins was led by President Ruth Hadley Hunt and Vice President Louise Jordan Smith.


J. Melville Broughton Jr.

Attorney for N.C. Association of Quality Restaurants. Advised restaurants in 1960 that it's their privilege to refuse service to whomever they chose.

W.O. Conrad

Western Electric executive served as first chairman of Greensboro Human Relations Commission, 1960

Dr. George Evan

Served as chairman of mayor's Advisory Committee on Human Relations

J. Spencer Love

Founder of Burlington Mills (now Burlington Industries). He dispatched Ed Zane to work full time at resolving the sit-in disputes

George H. Roach

Mayor of Greensboro in 1957 through 1961. His two two-year terms came not only during the sit-ins but also at a time when black students first enrolled in two previously all-white schools at Gillespie Park School and Greensboro Senior High School (now Grimsley).

Edward R. Zane

A high-ranking executive with Burlington Industries who headed the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Community Relations

Advisory Committee on Human Relations Members:

  • Edward R. Zane, deceased
  • Waldo C. Falkner, deceased
  • David Schenck
  • James C. Doggett
  • Howard Holderness, deceased
  • Bland W. Worley
  • O.L. Fryman
  • Arnold Schiffman, deceased
  • W.M. York


M. Thomas Bell

Constable, 1960

Paul Calhoun

Police chief in 1960. Died in January 2002.

Capt. William H. Jackson

A former police captain and head of the Greensboro Police Department's detective division, Jackson had a 36-year career that ended in 1976. During that time, he was in charge of the officers who maintained order during the 1963 desegregation demonstrations. William Jackson, who was white, arrested N.C. A&T State University student leader Jesse Jackson, who was black. Jesse Jackson led sit-down protests in the middle of Jefferson Square. Years later, Jesse Jackson would praise Capt. Jackson and other Greensboro police officers for the calm, professional way they treated protesters. No one was hurt during those tense times.

Edmund R. "Edd" Wynn

A police captain at time of sit-ins, he served 33 years with Greensboro Police Department, and as a ranking officer, had the responsibility of keeping the city calm during the demonstrations. Like Ralph Johns, Wynn discovered Greensboro when the Army Air Force stationed him here during World War II. Before that, he lived in New York, where he was a lifeguard, ice skating instructor, messenger on Wall Street and a firefighter. While in Greensboro, he met his future wife and decided to settle. He retired as one of the police department's ranking officers in 1983. He ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in 1989.

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