50 Years Later: From a Sit-in to a Civil Rights Museum | Sojourners

50 Years Later: From a Sit-in to a Civil Rights Museum

100201-woolworthOn Feb. 1, 1960, four African-American students sat down at the "whites-only" lunch counter at the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina. As I child, I was told by my late father that he took his youth group to participate in these sit-ins. They joined hundreds of churches, students, civil rights organizations and community members joined forces until the lunch counter was desegregated on July 25, 1960.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this seminal event, The International Civil Rights Center & Museum will open today in Greensboro. Situated in the original F.W. Woolworth's building where the protest started, this 43,000 square-foot museum will function as an archival center, collecting museum and teaching facility devoted to the international struggle for civil and human rights focusing on the nonviolent protests of the F.W. Woolworth sit-ins.

While I am not able to travel to the North Carolina to attend this opening in person, following are a few of the exhibits that caught my attention.

  • The Church and the Movement: The faith community was one of the most centralized forces in the battle for justice in America. This exhibit will showcase the power, influence, and vulnerability of the church as a place of organization, empowerment, and worship.
  • Jail, No Bail! The focal point of this exhibit will be jail bars framing a wall of 1,200 mug shots of protestors who were arrested throughout the South. Highlighted here will be names of the earliest protestors arrested in the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins.
  • Direct Action: The Economics of Protest: Visitors will witness some of America's landmark events including: Montgomery Bus Boycott, Selma to Montgomery March, Freedom Summer, the Poor People's Campaign, and the March on Washington. Each event, galvanized by community activism, reflected resistance and economic boycotts in support of the civil rights movement.

  • In Memoriam to Lives Lost: A Wall of Remembrance will stand in memoriam to lives lost in the battle for civil rights and to inspire courage in future generations. One hundred men, women, and children who paid the ultimate sacrifice in America's battle for freedom and equality will be honored here.
  • A Changed World: This exhibit will explore the nonviolent global conflict as it is reflected on nations around the world. The display will be dedicated to the continuing journey and the evolving nonviolent civil rights, equality, and peace movements documenting the roles of emerging activist groups and new coalitions.

For more information about this museum, check out their Web site (www.sitinmovement.org).

portrait-becky-garrisonFollow Becky Garrison's travels on Twitter @JesusDied4This.