The daily lives of most Americans may not seem to have been directly affected by what came to be known as the unrest of the 1960s, but the changes wrought by protests in those years rippled across America. The most striking changes were the fruits of the civil rights movement, which in its modern form traced its origins at least as far back as World War II. At that time the cruel irony of asking African Americans to risk their lives for a country that denied them constitutionally guaranteed rights became glaringly obvious. Several Supreme Court decisions set precedents for the 1954 landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. In Brown the Court ruled that schools designed to be "separate but equal" were inherently unequal and therefore unconstitutional.
Civil Rights for African Americans
Armed with the conviction that the Supreme Court's decision outlawing "separate but equal" schools extended to other aspects of their lives, and frustrated by resistance to calls for change, African American activists adopted a strategy that at first baffled those seeking to thwart them: They defied laws that denied them rights but refused to defend themselves against physical and verbal attacks. On February 1, 1960, four students at North Carolina A&T College in Greeensboro took the first nonviolent action of the 1960s. These students, the 66 who joined them the next day, the 100 the next, and the 1,000 by the end of the week, sat down at a "whites only" lunch counter in a Woolworth's store in Greensboro. The Greensboro "coffee party," which historian William Chafe says "takes its place alongside the Boston Tea Party as an event symbolizing