Demonstrations and sit-ins served as powerful tools in the struggle for equality in the civil rights movement and other civil liberty struggles. Both forms of protest adhere to the principles of nonviolence endorsed by such figures as Mahatma Ghandi in India and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States.
The most famous example of a sit-in occurred in 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina. In February 1960, four African-American students from Greensboro A&T sat at a Woolworth’s lunch counter. The lunch counter was not integrated and the four men were refused service. This began a three-month-long struggle to integrate the lunch counter. Each day, moreAfrican- American students and supporters sat down at the counter and were refused service. They withstood verbal and physical abuse, threats, and jail time and persevered in their efforts. The lunch counter eventually integrated and the sit-in first begun in Greensboro spread throughout the South as increasing numbers of civil rights groups adopted the sit-in strategy. Despite the abuse, at no time did the students and supporters of the Greensboro sit-in resort to violence.
Demonstrations have taken place for centuries and usually serve as public forums to protest injustice and wrongs perceived by the people. In the modern era, demonstrations serve as important ways in which to get a particular viewpoint or message spread to others. Demonstrations are often used for political reasons, with various groups attempting to get their messages heard. The civil rights movement used demonstrations effectively to gain media attention on their struggle and turn America against prejudice and bigotry.
JASON M. SOKIERA
References and Further Reading
- Bermanzohn, Sally Avery. Through Survivors’ Eyes: From the Sixties to the Greensboro Massacre. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 2003.
- Hairston, Otis L., Jr. Greensboro North Carolina (Black America Series). Mount Pleasant, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.