The city of Greensboro, North Carolina, is in the final stages of construction of what will be the International Civil Rights Center and Museum at the old downtown Woolworth’s, site of the United States’ first sit-in protesting racial segregation in restaurants and cafeterias. Its opening will mark the 50th anniversary of the historic event that led to the nation’s civil rights sit-in movement.
Jamaican-born actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte was on hand last February for the announcement of funding to complete the project. “People feel a sense of empowerment again, they feel a sense of ‘this is our chance. Our time has come’,” he said at the time.
On February 1, 1960, four black N.C. A&T students demanded service at the whites-only counter at the Elm Street Woolworth’s in an effort to protest segregation. One of the participants, Franklin McCain, said at the event in February: “We decided it was a great place to attack the hypocrisy of the system. We were determined to make some change, or at least question and turn the system upside down.” He and the others returned day after day, igniting the sit-in movement. The museum will feature part of the counter and stools.