Days that Changed the Consciousness of America

Greensboro Four sit-in demonstration. Photo Credit: New Journal and Guide Archives

Student Sit-In 61 Years Ago Impacted the Soul of America: January 6 did the Opposite!

By D.L. White

The modern-day Civil Rights Movement was infused with new energy on February 1, 1960 as four college students demonstrated tremendous courage in forcing a social change that reverberated across the nation. Unfortunately just the opposite can be said about January 6, 2021. Besides the 61 years that separate the events, one was calling for Justice and the latter was an attack on Justice!

Four freshmen students from North Carolina A & T (NCAT) University, Ezell Blair, Jr, David Richmond, Franklin McCain, and Joseph McNeil took matters into their own hands on February 1, 1960, as they walked the 2.5 miles from their campus to downtown Greensboro and etched their names in history manuals for all time. The four freshmen students placed their lives in harm’s way by entering the Woolworth and sitting down at the lunch counter during the busy lunch rush (knowing they would not be served according to Jim Crow segregation laws). Regular patrons of the favorite lunchtime spot upon witnessing the action by the students angrily left the establishment but not before yelling and hurling racial slurs and threats at the students, who did not budge and remained until the business closed.

Word of the incident spread like a fire through dry brush. The next day more students joined in and marched to the downtown Department store and occupied places at the lunch counter, refusing to leave or move, as angry white customers again yelled and became more aggressive by pouring sodas, malts and spitting on the students. On February 4, the sit-in protestors were joined by seven white female students from North Carolina Women’s College, an all Women’s College blocks from NCAT, who acted as if they wanted to order, only to relinquish their seats to the African American students from NCAT upon their arrival.

News of the Student Sit-In spread like a forest fire in dry bush as students from other colleges began sit-ins across the south and southwest. Students were harassed, spat on, and yelled at, but they held their peace and maintained their space. News of the sit-ins reached Dr. King in Montgomery, Ala, and he provided his full support. The Student Sit-Ins continued through the summer and in the fall, the major chain (Woolworth) after experiencing protest and mounting pressure from the new President (John F. Kennedy) and his Attorney General was forced to modify its policy and serve all patrons. Victory was achieved. Congress could take a note from the actions of those brave students and stand up and speak out on the insurrection and attack on Congress by a mob of Trump supporters on January 6, 2021

The truth will eventually come out and the entire nation will know that Trump and his band of merry men did as Congresswoman Liz Cheney noted, “Trump summoned the mob, and directed them to ‘stop the lie?” Pointing them to the halls of Congress where the Electoral votes were being confirmed.The usual symbolic and ceremonial matter is presided over by the Vice President, in this instance Mike Pence.The angry mob stormed the walls and halls of congress searching for Pence whom Trump, vilified for not supporting his (Trump’s) attempted to overthrow of the government and election results.

As the nation watched I n sheer shock, members of Congress were whisked off to the lower levels of the hallowed institution to escape the wrath and anger and no doubt harm of the angry mob, called at Trumps beckoning. The House of Representatives with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the helm moved in a timely manner and presented articles of Impeachment to the US Senate against the lame-duck and ill-manner Donald J. Trump with only days remaining in his Administration.

“This is exactly what the Founders feared and were concerned about the most,” noted Pelosi in reference to the usual smooth “Transfer of Power” from one Administration to the next.

Since the days of George Washington, every president save those that were deceased, removed from Office as was Andrew Johnson (first president impeached) for inappropriate behavior unbecoming a President. Every President, peacefully, graciously, and respectfully welcomed their successor to the Oval House, sat for the customary photos and moved on.Enter one Donald Trump, who despite losing the election fair and square (306 electoral votes to 200 something) has never conceded. Thus further perpetrating the lie he began himself reference  improprieties?

The improper actions were all efforts by Trump to initially prevent Biden from running and once Biden was in the race, the smear campaign began – attempting to falsely tie Biden to his son’s work aboard.Trump went as far as to attempt to strong arm a foreign leader, which resulted in his initial impeachment. Next Trump fired the Post Master General, and planted his own loyalist over the Post Office. Immediately high speed mailing machines were dismantled and placed in heaps? Through this process, Trump continued to attack the US Postal Services. 

During the first Impeachment hearings brought by the US House of Representatives Senator Susan Collins (R-MA) , did not vote to Impeach Trump stating the overwhelming evidence did not directly attribute to Trump and in fact, she felt “He (Trump) had learned his lesson.”

House Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff (D-CA), responded, “Trump believes himself to be above the law. His behavior will only get worse.”

Just as February 1 changed the conscience of America, So did January 6, 2021. And it unfortunately proved House Member Schiff correct… A sad (Very Sad) Truism!

Danny L. White  currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.  He is the author and creative lead for the Sensational letter “S”, a children’s book focused on early reading comprehension and word development. He is also a Adjunct faculty member at Maricopa College, and staff reporter for the Arizona Informant.  He is an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, in Phoenix.

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