57 Years Ago - How Four College Students Started a Revolution

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by Peter Dreier


57 Years Ago - How Four College Students Started a Revolution

Late in the afternoon of February 1, 1960, four young black men — Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain, and Joseph McNeil, all students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro — visited the local Woolworth’s five-and-dime store. They purchased school supplies and toothpaste, and then they sat down at the store’s lunch counter and ordered coffee.

“I’m sorry,” said the waitress. “We don’t serve Negroes here.”

The four students refused to give up their seats until the store closed. The local media soon arrived and reported the sit-in on television and in the newspapers.

The four students returned the next day with more students, and by February 5 about 300 students had joined the protest, generating more media attention. Their action inspired students at other colleges across the South to follow their example. By the end of March sit-ins had spread to 55 cities in 13 states. Many students, mostly black but also white, were arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct, or disturbing the peace.

In hundreds of cities across the country, Americans of conscience — led by churches and synagogues, unions, and college students — demonstrated their support for the sit-ins by picketing in front of Woolworths stores, urging people to boycott the national chain until it desegregated its Southern lunch counters.

The Greensboro Woolworths ended its policy of segregation a few weeks after the North Carolina A&T students began their protest. Within months, hundreds of other lunch counters, department stores, and other retail businesses throughout the South announced plans to serve all customers equally. The sit-ins, the picketing by allies, the consumer boycott, and the negative publicity had worked.

Most conservatives and even some liberals — black and white — thought that the student activists were too radical. But their actions galvanized a new wave of civil rights protest.

At the invitation of organizer Ella Baker, over Easter weekend — April 16-18 — several hundred sit-in activists and their allies came to Shaw University, a black college in Raleigh, North Carolina, to discuss how to capitalize on the sit-ins’ growing momentum and publicity.

This gathering became the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Its growing base of supporters played key roles in the freedom rides, marches, and voter registration drives that eventually led Congress to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Many SNCC activists became key leaders in subsequent battles for social justice. One was Marion Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Another was Congressman John Lewis, who courageously risked his life many times for social justice, but whom Donald Trump, in one of his recent twitter tantrums, criticized as “all talk, no action.”

Two weeks ago, over four million Americans took to the streets to resist Donald Trump’s assault on women’s rights, immigrants, Muslims, civil liberties, workers’ rights, environmental justice, and the basic tenets of our democracy. Last weekend, Americans again took to the streets (and airports) to oppose Trump’s ban on admitting refugees and immigrants to this nation of immigrants. Every day since Trump took office, Americans have taken to the streets, and will continue to take to the streets, to challenge Trump’s threat to our democracy.

The struggle continues. This is how people make history.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012). His other books include: Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century (University Press of Kansas, 3rd edition, 2014), and The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City (University of California Press, revised 2006). He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, Common Dreams, The Nation, and Huffington Post.

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7 Black Innovators Who Are Creating A Better Tomorrow

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

Taryn Finley Black Voices Associate Editor, The Huffington Post 02/06/2017 


7 Black Innovators Who Are Creating A Better Tomorrow

Their impact is undeniable.

This February, HuffPost Black Voices is honoring black men and women who are paving the way to a better future for black America. We are highlighting the work of deserving individuals who are striving to make the world a more inclusive place across their respective fields.

This week, we’re honoring seven black men and women in business and innovation who are using their skills and talents to change the landscape of their respective fields. Whether it’s through tech, fashion, music or finance, the impact these leaders have had is undeniable. 

Familiarize yourself with these ladies and gentlemen and help us celebrate their accomplishments!

    Bozoma Saint John

    Joe Scarnici via Getty Images

    In 2016, Bozoma Saint John was appointed as a head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Apple Music. Since she got the role, the Ghana-born executive has made waves at the company. She became the first black woman to present at an Apple event in June 2016 and she’s the brains behind the greatest Apple Music ad ever starring Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige and Kerry Washington.

    Kerby Jean-Raymond

    Mireya Acierto via Getty Images

    Season after season, fearless fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond delivers powerful messages through his ready-to-wear mens collection, Pyer Moss. Jean-Raymond was taking a walk one night after he broke his arm in a jet-ski accident. New York police officers stopped him and mistook his cast as a weapon and pulled their guns on him. The following year, Jean-Raymond used his creations as symbols of protest.

    He took a stance against police brutality with his entire spring/summer 2016 collection featuring faux bloodstained shoes and jackets with the word “breathe” written three times on the back. The fall collection Jean-Raymond featured later that year tackled mental health and depression.

    Evita Robinson

    Courtesy of Evita Robinson

    Evita Robinson is the founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe , a group dedicated to building a community of travelers and making world travel more accessible to people of color. The group has amassed more than 14,000 members since it was founded in 2011.

    Laura Weidman Powers

    JEALEX Photo via Getty Images

    Laura Weidman Powers co-founded CODE2040, a non-profit that aims to ensure people of color are proportionately represented in tech by year 2040. In July 2016, Obama’s White House named Powers senior policy adviser for their office of science and technology. 

    Tiffany Aliche

    Courtesy of Tiffany Aliche

    Tiffany Aliche, also known as “The Budgetnisa,” is a financial educator whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Essence, Time and more. Through her Facebook group, bestselling books and her online school, Live Richer Academy, Aliche has helped hundreds of thousands of women worldwide become more financially savvy.

    Maverick Carter

    Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images

    Maverick Carter is the mastermind behind LeBron James’ pivot into successful business ventures. Carter helped Bron secure his lifetime billion-dollar deal with Nike, making it the largest celebrity apparel deal in history. He also partnered with James to run his media production company, SpringHill Entertainment, which currently produces the trivia show “The Wall” on NBC. 

    Lindsey Day

    Courtesy of Lindsey Day

    Lindsey Day is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the world’s first natural hair magazine, CRWN.  The quarterly publication, which debuted in print last year, uplifts and empowers women of color with curls and celebrates them like true queens.


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A Conversation with Danny Glover on Transformation & Our Political Moment

Written by stephanie case on . Posted in Front News

Actor and human rights campaigner Danny Glover joined Sojourner Truth to discuss his thoughts on the current crisis facing movements for change in the United States and across the globe. Glover also weighs in on what can be gleaned from the greats of the past – Frantz Fanon, W. E. B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King, Jr. – as we forge a path forward.

Listen to past shows here.

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A Conversation with Oscar López Rivera

Written by stephanie case on . Posted in Front News

Today, we spend the hour with Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican freedom fighter who spent 35 years in prison until global pressure led to President Barack Obama commuting his sentence. Oscar is seen as a hero by his people and other anti-colonial strugglers, but mainstream media outlets have referred to him as a terrorist. So why did so many fight for his release? Why is he being welcomed as a hero in Puerto Rico, as well as in Latino communities in the United States. What are his views on movements of today, of decolonization and solidarity? What are his plans now? 

Listen to past shows here.

Photo courtesy of Puerto Ricans in Action.

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