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A Historical Perspective of Sit-In's / Occupations
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 The term “occupation” is being used as the direct action arm of the “99% Movement.” In previous generations, the term was “sit-in.” The most famous successful United States sit-in was done in 1960 and took five months to realize its goal. On Feb. 1, 1960, the Greensboro (N.C.) Four, as they would later be called, felt isolated and alone as they sat at that whites-only lunch counter at the Woolworth Store on South Elm Street.

They were seeking more than what they ordered — sodas, coffee, doughnuts. They were attacking the social order of the time. The unwritten rules of society required black people to stay out of white-owned restaurants, to use only designated drinking fountains and restrooms, to sit in the rear of Greensboro, North Carolina, city buses, in a separate balcony at the Center Theatre and in segregated bleachers during sports events at War Memorial Stadium.

The four black youths — Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond, all still teenagers and all freshmen on academic scholarships at N.C. A&T State University — had entered the unknown. McCain, who grew up in Washington and spent one year attending Greensboro's Dudley High School, said he expected to be arrested, beaten to a pulp or worse.

All four, and others that joined the protest would suffer many indignations including being spit on, having milk, flour, and chocolate syrup poured on them, violently getting ripped off their chairs and being beaten, but eventually they’d be recognized as heroes of the civil rights movement.

They were persistent. In the days after Feb. 1, they would be joined by other students at the Woolworth counter and at the Kress 5 & 10 lunch counter a half-block away. Their protests inspired black people to do the same at Formica-topped dime-store counters in other cities. The movement they started led to the integration of the Woolworth and the Kress chains, landmarks on every main street in the South.

 That is a clear lesson in psychology; everybody wants to be part of a winner, even those who weren't cheering for victory in the beginning. You must know that people are going to mock you, even those who you’d think would in support of your actions, yet you must not back down.


 

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