Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Delightful Adventures: Touring Down the Street

Traveling is one of my most favorite activities in the whole world. I've been blessed with opportunities to travel many places and I will share about many of them here on my blog.

But, today I'm going to write about my own city, mostly due to the fact that I need to sort through pictures and these are readily available! Most people wouldn't think of visiting Greensboro, NC. However, I love this city and there are so many things to do around here. This city is so rich in history.

Many people are surprised to discover that the Sit-In Movement of the African-American Civil Rights Movement began here in Greensboro. The first sit-in occurred at Woolworth's in downtown Greensboro and catapulted the Civil Rights Movement to a new momentum. The Woolworth's just reopened as the International Civil Rights Museum and I was able to visit it last week. The best part-I walked there-it's right down the street! I love the fact that I live so close to a historical monument.

Historical Background
On February 1, 1960, four students from the North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical University decided to peacefully protest the Jim Crow Law "Separate but Equal." After months of planning, the four black men sat at the "Whites Only" counter and tried to order food. Woolworth's only had seating for whites, while blacks were forced to stand or take their food to go in another section of the store.

Woolworth's refused to serve them, hoping they would go away, but they returned the next day with 27 more students. By day four, over 300 college students were participating in the peaceful sit-in, both black and white. However, violence grew from hecklers and someone called in a bomb threat, forcing Woolworth's to shut down until an agreement could be reached.

Within a week of the Greensboro sit-in, peaceful sit-in movements began spreading across North Carolina and eventually to the whole south. Many of these peaceful demonstrations led to desegregation within southern businesses and cities. On July 26, 1960, the Greensboro Woolworth's finally desegregated and blacks and whites were both served at the same counter.

Museum

The International Civil Rights Museum mostly concentrates on the Sit-In Movement, but also features national and international people and events dealing with civil rights.

I was really impressed by how well they set up the museum. It's very experiential. The halls are designed to make you feel the experience, not just walk through a museum. For example, the "Jim Crow" section is set up as a maze, to make you feel confused, as black people often felt lost and confused when searching for a bathroom they were allowed to use or a hotel they were allowed to stay in.

There's a lot of "neat" (and rightly disturbing) items in the museum, including the original Woolworth's counter, a soda machine with two sides (one side cost 5 cents for white people while the other cost 10 cents for black people),and an old guide book that told blacks where they could stay and eat while traveling around the country.

I was inspired learning about the simple plight of those four students, fighting for their inalienable rights. It also gave me hope for the city I love. There is still a racial divide in this city due to the long history of deep-rooted racism. I pray and hope for restoration.

I highly recommend-no INSIST that everyone in and near Greensboro visit this museum! And if you're dropping by the good ole Gate City, visit the museum!

Delightful Travels!

4 comments:

  1. Visiting from SITS

    I loved Greensboro! I lived there for 2 months when my niece was born. My sister is in the AIr Force and she was stationed there. The beaches in NC are beautiful. Especially the one on the Marine base :)

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  2. Touring the place where you live can be so much fun. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I was glad to hear that they were finally able to open this as a museum. I really wanna go see it.

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  4. Hi April -- MEP from Blogtrotting here . . . just checking to see if you're good to go for tomorrow! I'm working on your introduction.

    ReplyDelete

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