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#TBT: Nashville's lunch counter sit-ins

50 years ago, the historic Nashville lunch counter sit-ins began. Here's what Congressman John Lewis and others had to say about it.

Road to desegregation

50 years ago, a historic Civil Rights movement began in Nashville. Hundreds of black Americans sat peacefully at lunch counters to protest segregation. Opposition to the movement was fierce, and violent. After months of demonstrations, Nashville slowly started desegregating its lunch counters and public facilities — becoming the first Southern city to take this step.

When President Barack Obama took the oath of office for the first time, Congressman John Lewis was there

On a commemorative envelope he signed for Lewis that day, Obama wrote "Because of you, John." That’s because Lewis, as a young man, was part of a unique group of Nashville college students who set out to change the world. They succeeded because they had right on their side, and also because they had the courage it took to stay the course even when their lives were on the line. “All together it was a moving feeling within me that I was sitting there demanding a God-given right, and my soul became satisfied that I was right in what I was doing. At the same time, it’s something deep down within me, moving me — that I could no longer be satisfied or go along with an evil system”, John Lewis | Future Congressman says to a crowd in Nashville, February 1960.

On May 10, six downtown stores opened their lunch counters to black customers for the first time

After weeks of secret negotiations between merchants and protest leaders, an agreement was finally reached during the first week of May. According to the agreement, small, selected groups of African Americans would order food at the downtown lunch counters on a day known in advance to the merchants. The merchants would prepare their employees for the event and instruct them to serve the customers without trouble. This arrangement would continue in a controlled manner for a couple of weeks and then all controls would be taken off, at which point the merchants and protest leaders would reconvene to evaluate the results. Also as part of the agreement, the media was to be informed of the settlement and requested to provide only accurate, non-sensational coverage.

Brut.

02/13/2020 11:27 PM
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32 comments

  • Tony H.
    a day

    On yeah and why blacks people are voted for Donald j trump my neighbors have signs that said Donald j trump 2020 and he wanted only white people Americans only

  • Keith H.
    a day

    My birthday was the first sit in i was 2

  • George H.
    4 days

    It wasn't 50 years ago was 60 years ago

  • Donnie M.
    7 days

    If black people were smart they would have kept segregation look it up once they did desegregation black people lost massive businesses

  • Donnie M.
    7 days

    That's the problem with black people today always breaking their neck to patronize white people's businesses

  • Michael A.
    7 days

    D ok nt understand why this should DC have ever had to happen. 😔 God would DC want us all to sit together

  • E D.
    02/20/2020 12:05

    Why would you want to organize and get together to sit down and spend money in a place that didn't wan't you there instead of getting together and building your own place to eat? 🤷‍♂️

  • Matthew W.
    02/19/2020 08:54

    This is before they subtracted the father from Black America. Listen how bright and articulate these young people are. They were raised in a different time. With a different mindset. The struggle was real. God protect the family

  • Tom K.
    02/19/2020 03:22

    60 years ago

  • Walt Y.
    02/18/2020 18:24

    despite being only 13% of the population they commit 52% of all violent crimes

  • Otilio L.
    02/17/2020 03:53

    Those are real social justice Warriors. Fought real discrimination and racism with class and dignity much respect

  • Joe R.
    02/16/2020 20:04

    Uh, wasn't 1960, uhm, 60 years ago?

  • Shelley N.
    02/16/2020 18:27

    We must never forget. Forgive yes

  • Karen Y.
    02/16/2020 15:36

    A piece of one of the counters is in the Smithsonian - I wrote about it in one of my undergrad papers

  • Sylvan M.
    02/16/2020 13:25

    I put to rest those days, never understood the difference because I was not raised that way. In the orphanage, we all were the same and to this day, I have brothers and sisters that I can count! Leave the old baggage behind, does nothing for your soul! Don’t let others keep pounding it into your head! Be a good person, study, love your family and friends and live your life. Leave the negative people behind, they have no value in your future, God Bless

  • Ogbe A.
    02/16/2020 13:19

    ✔️

  • Shamsuddin A.
    02/16/2020 02:31

    Eyeman was only 10 years old still striving to maintain anger... control anger refine my spirit... wickedness has become the norm these days yet hope is a bright light with In

  • Jorge G.
    02/15/2020 17:27

    John Lewis, great lider, rest in peace.

  • Pedro J.
    02/15/2020 14:32

    Todos somos iguales, NO importa color de piel ni nacionalidad.

  • Richard V.
    02/15/2020 04:18

    I'd like to see a WATN piece on some of these folks...