Summer of the Archives Series

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Fifty-five years ago this week, on July 26, 1960, the first African Americans were served at the lunch counter in the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth. Almost six months previously, on February 1, 1960, four African American students from North Carolina A & T State University had attempted to integrate the “whites only” lunch counter, but were refused service. The students had just purchased school supplies in the store, and argued that if the store was willing to take their money for goods, they should also be willing to serve them at the lunch counter. Even though they were repeatedly asked to leave by the lunch counter staff and by police, the four students stayed seated until the store closed that night. The next day, twelve African Americans came to sit at the Woolworth lunch counter.

African American men seated at lunch counter, 1960.  [Call no. NO.2.10.1960.fr6a]

African American men seated at lunch counter, 1960. [Call no. NO.2.10.1960.fr6a]

The lunch counter sit-in protests quickly spread to other cities in North Carolina and across the South, and, in the end, these demonstrations led to the desegregation of many public spaces.

This photograph is part of the News and Observer Photograph Files, State Archives of North Carolina, and can be found in the Civil Rights digital collection at North Carolina Digital Collections. The Civil Rights collection includes photographs and documents from the 1950s through 1970s related to the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina. Check out these articles at NCpedia for more information on the Greensboro Four and African American Civil Rights in North Carolina.