Not only is Feb 1. the beginning of Black History Month, but it is the anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins, which began that day in 1960.
The sit-ins were led by four students from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T) – Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Jibreel Khazan (then Ezell Blair Jr.) and David Richmond. The sit-ins took place at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C.
The nonviolent protests lasted over five months. The Greensboro sit-ins are considered one of the most significant events of the civil rights movement, and they are believed to have set the standard for modern nonviolent protest and resistance.
The students said that the work of Martin Luther King Jr. inspired the protests. The sit-in first became successful because a white businessman aided them, alerting media outlets earlier in that day that a sit-in would be taking place. By the time police arrived at the sit-ins, members of the media were already there. The next day, more than 20 people were at the counter, and by day four, over 300 people were involved, and it expanded to another restaurant.
A few months later, Woolworth’s counter was integrated. Four years later, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, which told all businesses to desegregate.
An acclaimed documentary, February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four, was made in 2004 and is essential viewing for Black History Month. The film won several awards, including Best Documentary Film at the Carolina Film and Video Festival and the Global Peace Film Festival. It has also had the honor of screening at several prestigious locations, including the King Center and the Smithsonian National Musical of American History.
The film is available to watch in full, for free, on YouTube below: