After 1965 it's a brand new day. New tactics had to be devised. I think the turning point in the movement was when Stokely said we're just tired of turning the other cheek, which is true. . . . And there are only three ways to get power. You can request it, demand it, or take it. And the alternative was trying to take it.
David Richmond, one of the four original Greensboro sit-in demonstrators
The late 1960's were a fiery time in America. Black Panthers and Students for a Democratic Society tried to organize ghetto dwellers into a revolutionary phalanx to overthrow capitalism. Thousands of other young people, fed up with United States hypocrisy in Vietnam and the country's failure to solve problems of poverty and race at home, condemned "the system." Millions of adults, in turn, began to suspect that everything they cared about was being undermined by dissidents from another world--people who smoked marijuana, punctuated every other sentence with "Motherfucker!" and held middle-class propriety in contempt. Violence became part of the language of political discourse. Students with automatic weapons took over a dining hall at Cornell; battle-garbed soldiers tear-gassed anti-war demonstrators at the Pentagon; and police brutalized demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Whether one came from the left or the right, the country seemed under siege: for radical activists it was the brutal hammer of government repression; for "middle Americans" it was the intolerance of self-righteous radicals.
In Greensboro many of the same forces were at work, nowhere more clearly than in relations between black and white. Black activists felt hemmed in and powerless before an intransigent opposition that was proficient in using sophisticated forms of obstruction to frustrate black demands. In the past, each new stage of insurgency had brought forth new modes of white control. But never before had the constraints seemed so difficult to attack, so invulnerable to conventional weapons of protest. Clearly, new approaches were needed--approaches that