Running Against the Storm: 50th Anniversary of the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-In

February 3, 2010

In a special evening ceremony, Jibreel Khazan (formerly Ezell Blair Jr.), Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and, posthumously, David Richmond—the Greensboro Four— received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in recognition of their contribution to civil rights in America. 

On Feb. 1, 1960, these four African American college freshmen sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., and politely asked to be served. When they remained in the seats after their request was refused, they ignited a youth-led movement to challenge injustice and racial inequality throughout the South. 

Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough presented the Smithson medals during the ceremony that also included civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and remarks by the three surviving members of the Greensboro Four.

Throughout 2010, the museum marks the 50th anniversary of this sit-in and other civil rights milestones with programming that explores America’s stories of freedom and justice. More information about the lunch counter, the Greensboro sit-in and how the museum is commemorating the anniversary is available at