It's difficult to imagine that bellying up to a lunch counter could change the very fabric of American society. But when Joseph McNeil and three of his peers from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University decided to stage a sit-in at the Woolworth's whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., on Feb. 1, 1960, that's exactly what happened. After being refused service because of the color of their skin, the four college freshman decided to hold tight, remaining in the restaurant until the store closed. The next day, they returned with more African-American students in attendance, which sparked intense media coverage. By the sixth day, an estimated 1,000 protesters filled the Woolworth's and spilled onto the streets, bringing downtown Greensboro to halt. This sit-in sparked similar uprisings across the South, becoming one of the most emblematic non-violent struggles in the civil-rights movement and hastening passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
Almost 50 years to the day after these famous sit-ins took place, McNeil, a retired major general in the Air Force Reserves, will head to Boise to speak at the ACLU of Idaho's 2010 Bill of Rights Celebration, "Take a Seat and Make a Stand." On Saturday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m., join the ACLU of Idaho in the Simplot Ballroom at Boise State for dinner and an inspirational evening. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity to hear a living civil-rights icon speak about the past and future of this ongoing struggle. See News for more.
Saturday, Jan. 23, 6 p.m., $50-$100, Simplot Ballroom, Boise State Student Union, 1700 University Dr. For info, call 208-344-9750, ext. 204 or visit acluidaho.org.