Greensboro lunch counter sit-in

Stories of Freedom & Justice

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the student sit-ins at the Greensboro, N.C. lunch counter. To commemorate this event, the Museum is exploring stories of Freedom and Justice throughout 2010.

From the Blog


The Greensboro Sit-Ins

On February 1, 1960, four African American college students sat down at a lunch counter at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, and politely asked for service. Their request was refused. When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Their passive resistance and peaceful sit-down demand helped ignite a youth-led movement to challenge racial inequality throughout the South.

Marchers in front of a Woolworth's with signsA crowd pouring food and drink on young sit-in protestors

View more images from the sit-ins.

Video about the Lunch Counter

  • Reflections on the Greensboro Lunch Counter. Civil Rights activists Joseph McNeil, Diane Nash, and John Lewis reflect on the history and legacy of the lunch counter from the F. W. Woolworth department store in North Carolina and the sit-in campaign that began on February 1, 1960.

TEACHERS: Check out the Learning Resources page for a page for a teacher guide and streaming video of "Join the Student Sit-ins" for the classroom.


You are invited to experience "Stories of Justice and Freedom" events throughout the year including the 9th Annual Celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month focusing on "Jazz and Justice" and two naturalization ceremonies in June and September. As date and location information is available it will be added to the calendar below.

Don't miss our Historic Theater programs!

  • Join the Student Sit-Ins. Meet a civil rights activist who will train you for your first sit-in. Decide if you would have the courage to fight for justice during the civil rights movement.
  • Sing for Freedom: Freedom songs from the civil rights movement of the 1960s fill the halls in this rousing interactive presentation that explores the powerful role music played in the struggle for freedom.

OurStory: For K-4 Children & Their Families

OurStory is designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through children’s literature, everyday objects, and hands on activities. Suitable for home or classroom use.

Cover of book, Freedom on the MenuFreedom on the Menu 
Read a historical fiction story about the lunch counter from the point of view of a young girl named Connie. Her perspective weaves emotions together with the historical details of the protests.
Explore activities related to Freedom on the Menu

Cover of book, "Martin's Big Words"Martin's Big Words
Read an illustrated biography that traces Dr. King's life from his childhood and includes quotes from his writings and speeches. Explore Dr. King's story and then try fun activities to learn more about him and other brave Americans who worked on the civil rights movement.
Explore activities related to Martin's Big Words

Read articles related to the Civil Rights Movement

Learn More

  • American Art Museum
    Visit the site "Oh Freedom!" to explore how art relates to the Civil Rights Movement.
  • NASM 
    Learn about the "Black Wings," the African American Pioneer Aviators
  • Sitting for Justice 
    Learn how a portion of the Woolworth lunch counter from Greensboro, North Carolina, became part of the American civil rights movement collection at the National Museum of American History. 
    Article by curator William H. Yeingst (.pdf)

Other Resources