The Greensboro Four

On February 1, 1960, four young black men sat down at a whites-only lunch counter at a Woolworth’s Drugstore in Greensboro, North Carolina, and asked to be served. Following the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, these men, known as The Greensboro Four, used this peaceful method of protest to help effect change related to the discriminatory practices of many businesses in the United States. On the second day of the protest, they were joined by several others. The next day, even more protesters joined them. Over time, these types of sit-ins helped to end the policy of whites-only service at many establishments.

Thank you for being a part of the Professional Educators Network. We hope you enjoy this new installment of History’s ARTifacts. Please watch the educational video with your students, download the poster by this month’s artist, Noah Lawrence-Holder, and watch Noah’s Meet the Artist video.

Meet the Artist: Noah Lawrence-Holder

Activities for The Greensboro Four

The Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-ins were a form of non-violent protest to call attention to racial segregation in America. Taking place in 1960, the sit-ins were vital in energizing the Civil Rights Movement. Led by David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr. and Joseph McNeil, the sit-ins were not the first to protest racial injustice. Social Studies students can research not only other sit-ins, but also other forms of non-violent protest that were utilized throughout the history of the United States. Examples include the strike, the work slow-down, the march and the boycott.
One of the reasons the sit-ins were successful was because of the economic impact they had. Woolworth’s, the department store chain at which the initial sit-in occurred, suffered immediate financial repercussions as customers stayed away from the stores. Between February and July of 1960, Woolworth’s lost an estimated $200,000 in revenue. Students can use the inflation calculator at this website to figure out how much that would be in today’s dollars.
Although the psychological underpinnings of racism have been explored for decades, the field is still fertile ground for research. Many studies have been conducted trying to find social and psychological explanations for the cause and continuation of racism. The scholarly website Sage Journals has curated a collection of some of the most recent insights on the psychology of racism. The article at this link describes some of the most influential articles and gives references to the studies themselves. The articles are rigorous and challenging and can be a great supplement for ambitious science students.
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford is a fictional account of the Greensboro sit-ins as seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl named Connie. By telling the story through her perspective, the book offers young readers a way to engage with the history of the sit-ins and encourages discussion both in the classroom and at home. The book can open up conversations about racism, injustice, non-violent protest and how things have or have not changed over the last 60 years.
This month’s poster by artist Noah Lawrence-Holder was created digitally and is inspired by art from the Civil Rights Era. Students can research important works by artists who were active during that time, such as David Hammons, Norman Rockwell, Moneta Sleet Jr. and Elizabeth Catlett. Have them draw comparisons between the artists’ approach and work from current artists like Banksy, Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley. Have them create their own pieces using painting, sketching and drawing techniques.