We celebrate the spirit to take action
January 29, 2010
On Feb. 1, 2010, the community of Greensboro and the state of North Carolina will mark a date that carries with it significance of enormous proportion — far beyond the obvious. The F.W. Woolworth sit-ins changed the course of American history. But also grounded in this momentous accomplishment is a lesson too often forgotten: Ordinary people can effect extraordinary change.
Visitors will be reminded of this truism, particularly as they view the final installation within our core exhibition –– The Battlegrounds. This nation, if not the world, has been guided and elevated by men and women with the courage and vision to believe in a universe built on what could be, rather than one circumscribed by discriminatory laws and traditions.
From the moment the Declaration of Independence proclaimed “All men are created equal,” the founding fathers excluded millions of African ancestry who were forcibly brought to these shores or born in America. Ironically, those excluded helped build this fledgling democracy. Slaves and abolitionists confronted this atrocity for more than a century, often yielding only tragic results. Later, activists would emerge who found voice through legislation, litigation and direct action. As an outgrowth, the civil rights movement evolved, and it will be the stories of these visionaries that the International Civil Rights Center & Museum will portray with graphic imagery, sound and prose.
Each of them reached for what could be. With unbounded courage and commitment, the teenage Greensboro/A&T Four reached for what could be. With uncompromising tenacity and conviction, Skip Alston and Earl Jones held true to their dream and achieved what many thought impossible — believing in what could be. In observing the 50th anniversary of America’s landmark sit-ins, we pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of ordinary people and the legacy that the International Civil Rights Center & Museum commemorates.
Amelia Parker is executive director of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.