Smithsonian to Show Relic of Civil Rights

Article excerpt

On Feb. 1, 1960, four black college students sat down at an all-white lunch counter at the Woolworth's store in Greensboro, N.C. - and helped energize the civil rights movement.

Now that counter is going on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian's Museum of American History will house an 8-foot section of the counter, four stools, a soda fountain, pie case and other articles from the Woolworth's store - which closed recently. The Woolworth Corp. donated the items.

One of the four protesters who climbed onto those stools 34 years ago, Joseph McNeil, called the items "symbolic of a very small part of a massive movement to improve the conditions of mankind.

"I think it is important to have those types of artifacts around to never let us forget from where we've come as a country, so we never have to revisit those things again."

McNeil was 17 when he and three fellow students at North Carolina A&T State University - Frank McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond - decided to challenge laws barring blacks from many public facilities.

Their action led to similar sit-ins in 50 cities in nine states. …