Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

Synopsis

The 'sit-ins' at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro launched the passive resistance phase of the civil rights revolution. This book tells the story of what happened in Greensboro; it also tells the story in microcosm of America's effort to come to grips with our most abiding national dilemma--racism.

Excerpt

Twenty years ago four black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat down at a Woolworth's lunch counter and demanded the same service as that given white customers. Their action remade history, inaugurating the civil rights revolution of the 1960's and setting in motion the most turbulent decade of our nation's history. The students acted because they believed in American democracy. They had faith that white American citizens--when forced to confront the horror and indecency of racism--would move to guarantee equal opportunity for all people in jobs, education, and politics. Hopeful, idealistic, and more than a little bit frightened by their own daring, these young men took it upon themselves to dramatize the evils of racism, and thereby hasten the day when democracy could become a reality for themselves and all black Americans.

Much has happened since that February day two decades ago. At least some of the goals envisioned by the first sit-in demonstrators have been achieved. The civil rights laws enacted in 1964, 1965, and 1968 have ensured far wider legal protection of black citizens and have destroyed official sanction for most forms of racial discrimination. Yet the underlying goals of the sit-in demonstrators remain, in many ways, as far distant today as they were before the Woolworth's protests took place. Inequality and discrimination still suffuse our social and economic system, buttressed by informal modes of social control even more powerful than the law. Although the means of keeping blacks in their place may now be implicit rather than explicit, they too often are just as effective as in the past. Indeed, many of the hopes espoused by the . . .

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