Greensboro International Civil Rights Center

Witness History in the Making at the Greensboro International Civil Rights Center

If you are looking to visit a place that witnessed a turning point in US history, you should not miss the Greensboro International Civil Rights Center in North Carolina. The former Woolworth’s department store is the place of the first sit-in, non-violent protests in the fight against racial segregation and equal rights.

The Civil Rights Movement in Greensboro

On February 1, 1960, four freshmen students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University decided to engage in a legal, non-violent protest against racial segregation. The group that would later be referred to as A&T Four or the Greensboro Four was comprised of Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and David Richmond.

The four students entered the lunch counter at Woolworth’s department store and sat where the company’s policy banned serving for black people. Upon being rejected by the staff, the group refused to leave and sat in their chairs until closing hours.

The AT&T Four had planned to repeat the event every day until the store would acknowledge the need for change in racial segregation. To their surprise, the next day 20 more students joined their efforts, and on the third day, more than 60 people followed their example with other 300 activists joining on the fourth day.

By the end of the week, thousands of students were boycotting the stores that employed racial discrimination all over Greensboro, forcing them to give up on their policies or face a significant drop in sales and subsequent bankruptcy.

The Woolworth manager eventually agreed to renounce racial segregation on the store’s premises, which is seen today as a crucial victory of the local community’s efforts to break down racial barriers. The sit-in protests in Greensboro inspired similar actions in other towns in North Carolina and the neighboring states, which accelerated the Civil Rights Movement and the eventual desegregation in the United States.

Present Day Activities

Nowadays, the International Civil Rights Center at 134 South Elm Street in Greensboro, NC hosts a hub for local events and a museum that chronicles the historical importance of the local community in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

The museum celebrates the protests that took place there over 60 years ago with an exhibition of photographs, written materials, and eye-witness testimonials. The permanent display of these historical events is accompanied by an engaging audio/video narrative, pictorials, and artifacts.

You can visit the Greensboro International Civil Rights Center from Monday to Saturday between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. The entry tickets vary between $8 and $12 with children 5 and under benefitting from free admission.

Ways to Give Back to the Greensboro Community

Since its establishment on February 1, 2010, at exactly 50 years since the AT&T Four made their initial protest, the museum has struggled with financial difficulties. If you want to give back to the Greensboro community, you can make a donation that will support the venue’s upkeep and role in acknowledging the city’s importance in the Civil Rights Movement.