Sit-in movement
Part of the Civil Rights Movement
Student sit-in at Woolworth in Durham, North Carolina on February 10, 1960
DateFebruary 1, 1960 – 1964
Caused by
Student activists
Segregated businesses

The sit-in movement, sit-in campaign or student sit-in movement, were a wave of sit-ins that followed the Greensboro sit-ins on February 1, 1960 in North Carolina. The sit-in movement employed the tactic of nonviolent direct action and was a pivotal event during the Civil Rights Movement.[1]

African-American college students attending historically Black colleges and universities in the United States powered the sit-in movement across the country. Many students across the country followed by example, as sit-ins provided a powerful tool for students to use to attract attention.[2] The students of Baltimore made use of this in 1960 where many used the efforts to desegregate department store restaurants, which proved to be successful lasting about three weeks. This was one small role Baltimore played in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The city facilitated social movements across the country as it saw bus and taxi companies hiring African-Americans in 1951–1952.[3] Sit-ins also frequented segregated facilities in Oklahoma City between 1958 and 1964.[4]

Students at Baltimore, Maryland's, Morgan State College had successfully deployed sit-ins and other direct action protest tactics against lunch counters in that city since at least 1953. One notable successful student sit-in which occurred in Baltimore was in 1955 at Read's Drug Store.[5] Despite also being led by students and successfully resulting in the end of segregation at a store lunch counter, the Read's Drug Store sit-in would not receive the same level of attention that was later given to the Greensboro sit-ins.[6] Two store lunch counter sit-ins which occurred in Wichita, Kansas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1958 also proved successful, and would employ tactics which were in fact similar to the future Greensboro sit-ins.[7][8] The local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality had had similar success. Witnessing the unprecedented visibility afforded in the white-oriented mainstream media to the 1960 sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, Morgan students (and others, including those from the Johns Hopkins University) continued sit-in campaigns already underway at department store restaurants near their campus. There were massive amounts of support from the community for the students’ efforts, but more importantly, white involvement and support grew in favor of desegregation of department store restaurants.[9]

List of sit-ins

Precursors to sit-in movement

Start date Sit-in(s) Location Ref. Notes
August 21, 1939 Alexandria Library sit-in Alexandria, Virginia [10][11] [note 1]
1943 Chicago Chicago, Illinois [12] [note 2]
July 1948 Des Moines Katz Drugstore protests Des Moines, Iowa [13]
1953 Baltimore Baltimore, Maryland
1954 Dresden Dresden, Ontario, Canada [14]
January 20, 1955 Read's Drug Store Baltimore, Maryland [15][16] [note 3]
June 23, 1957 Royal Ice Cream sit-in Durham, North Carolina [17] [note 4]
July 19, 1958 Dockum Drug Store sit-in Wichita, Kansas [18]
August 19, 1958 Katz Drug Store sit-in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma [19][18] [note 5]
1959 Miami Miami, Florida

Beginning with Greensboro sit-ins

Start date (1960) Sit-in(s) University or College students State Ref. Notes
February 1 Greensboro sit-ins North Carolina A&T State University North Carolina [20][21]
February 8 Durham North Carolina College [21]
Fayetteville Fayetteville State Teachers College [21]
Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Teachers College [21]
February 9 Charlotte Johnson C. Smith University [21]
Concord Barber–Scotia College [21]
Elizabeth City Elizabeth City State Teachers College [21]
Henderson [21]
High Point [21]
February 10 Raleigh Saint Augustine's College [21]
Shaw University
February 11 Hampton Hampton University Virginia [21]
Portsmouth [21]
High Point William Penn High School North Carolina [22]
February 12 Rock Hill Clinton Junior College South Carolina [21]
Norfolk Virginia [21][23]
February 13 Nashville sit-ins Fisk University Tennessee [21] [note 6]
Tallahassee Florida A&M University Florida [21][24]
Florida State University
February 14 Sumter Morris College South Carolina [21]
February 16 Salisbury Livingstone College North Carolina [21]
February 17 Chapel Hill [21]
February 18 Charleston South Carolina [21]
Shelby North Carolina [21]
February 19 Chattanooga Tennessee [21][25]
February 20 Richmond Virginia Union University Virginia [21][26] [note 7]
February 22 Baltimore Coppin State Teachers College Maryland [21]
Frankfort State Normal School for Colored Persons Kentucky [21]
February 25 Montgomery Alabama State College Alabama [21] [note 8]
Orangeburg Claflin College South Carolina [21]
February 26 Lexington Kentucky [21]
Petersburg Virginia State College Virginia [21]
Tuskegee Tuskegee Institute Alabama [21]
February 27 Tampa Florida [21]
March 2 Columbia Allen University South Carolina [21]
Benedict College
Daytona Beach Bethune–Cookman College Florida [21]
St. Petersburg [21]
March 4 Houston Texas Southern University Texas [21][27] [note 9]
Miami Florida Memorial College Florida [21]
March 7 Knoxville Knoxville College Tennessee [21][31][32]
March 8 New Orleans Dillard University Louisiana [21]
Southern University
March 10 Little Rock Arkansas Baptist College Arkansas [21]
March 11 Austin Huston–Tillotson College Texas [21]
Galveston [21]
March 12 Jacksonville Edward Waters College Florida [21]
March 13 San Antonio Texas [21]
March 15 Atlanta sit-ins Clark College Georgia [21][33] [note 10]
Morehouse College
Morris Brown College
Spelman College
Orangeburg South Carolina State University South Carolina [34] [note 11]
Claflin College
Corpus Christi Texas [21]
St. Augustine Florida [21]
Statesville North Carolina [21]
March 16 Savannah Savannah State College Georgia [21]
March 17 New Bern North Carolina [21]
March 19 Memphis Owen Junior College Tennessee [21]
Wilmington North Carolina [21]
Arlington Virginia [21]
March 26 Lynchburg Randolph-Macon Woman's College; Lynchburg College; and Virginia Theological Seminary and College Virginia [21][35]
March 28 Baton Rouge Southern University Louisiana [21] [note 12]
New Orleans Xavier University [21]
March 29 Marshall Wiley College Texas [21][36]
March 31 Birmingham Wenonah State Technical Institute Alabama [21]
Miles College
April 2 Danville Virginia [21]
April 4 Darlington South Carolina [21]
April 9 Augusta Paine College Georgia [21]
April 12 Norfolk Virginia State College (Norfolk Division) Virginia [21]
April 17 Biloxi Mississippi [21]
April 23 Starkville [21]
April 24 Charleston Burke High School South Carolina [21][37] [note 13]
April 28 Dallas Paul Quinn College Texas [21]
June 17 Baltimore Maryland [21][38] [note 14]

Related post-1960 sit-ins

Date Sit-in(s) Location Ref. Notes
September 11, 1960 El Charro Mexican Restaurant Flagstaff, Arizona [40]
January 31, 1961 Rock Hill South Carolina [note 15]
1962 Sewanee, Tennessee [note 16]
May 28, 1963 Woolworth's Jackson, Mississippi [42][43] [note 17]
March 7, 1964 Audubon Regional Library Clinton, Louisiana [44] [note 18]

See also


  1. ^ Five men participated in the sit-in organized by Samuel Wilbert Tucker.
  2. ^ Led by Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
  3. ^ The sit-in was conducted at Read's Drug Store.
  4. ^ Participants include Douglas E. Moore.
  5. ^ Participants include Clara Luper.
  6. ^ Participants during the February 20, 17 include Patricia Stephens.
  7. ^ 34 students would participate and be arrested. They became known as the Richmond 34.
  8. ^ The sit-in targeted a state capitol cafeteria and was led by Bernard Lee accompanied by three dozen students.
  9. ^ Participants include Texas Southern University student and leader Holly Hogrobrooks. Also see Ku Klux Klan victim Felton Turner.[28][29][30]
  10. ^ Participants include Morehouse College student Charles Person.
  11. ^ Resulted in the largest mass arrest (388) of the Civil Rights Movement up to that point.
  12. ^ Sit-in led to Garner v. Louisiana (1961) case.
  13. ^ Led by James Blake and occurred at the Kress store on King Street.
  14. ^ Sit-in led to Bell v. Maryland (1964) case that involved Robert M. Bell.[39]
  15. ^ Students from Friendship Junior College protested. A group of nine students known as the Friendship Nine would use the "jail no bail" tactic later duplicated by other protestors. The sit-in is regarded as the first to use the tactic, but Christopher W. Schmidt challenges this assertion. Patricia Stephens Due is sometimes credited as the first to use the tactic.[41]
  16. ^ Participants include Bruce W. Klunder.
  17. ^ Participants include Pearlena Lewis and Anne Moody.
  18. ^ Sit-in led to Brown v. Louisiana (1966) case.


  1. ^ Flowers, Deidre B. (January 2005). "The Launching of the Student Sit-in Movement: The Role of Black Women at Bennett College". The Journal of African American History. 90 (1–2): 52–63. doi:10.1086/jaahv90n1-2p52. ISSN 1548-1867. S2CID 140781391.
  2. ^ "The Sit-In Movement []". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  3. ^ William H. Chafe (April 1982). "Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom". The American Historical Review. New York: Oxford University Press: xii, 436. doi:10.1086/ahr/87.2.565. ISSN 1937-5239.
  4. ^ "60 Years Later, Oklahoma's Sit-In Movement is Remembered". The Oklahoman. August 12, 2018.
  5. ^ Liu, Nancy (September 11, 2011). "Baltimore, MD, students sit-in to integrate Read's drug stores, USA, 1955". Global Nonviolent Action Database. Swarthmore. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  6. ^ Pousson, Eli. "Read's Drug Store". Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  7. ^ "Dockum Drug Store Sit-In". Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  8. ^ Backburn, Bob L. (July 29, 2018). "African-American history in Oklahoma contains sit-ins, soldiers, entrepreneurs and more". The Oklahoman. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  9. ^ "Baltimore Sit-Ins". Nonviolent Datebase.
  10. ^ Mitchell-Powell, Brenda (2017). "The 1939 Alexandria, Virginia, Public Library Sit-in Demonstration". In Kimball, Melanie A.; Wisser, Katherine M. (eds.). Libraries – Traditions and Innovations: Papers from the Library History Seminar XIII. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. pp. 70–99. ISBN 9783110448566.
  11. ^ Smith, J. Douglas (2003). Managing White Supremacy: Race, Politics, and Citizenship in Jim Crow Virginia. University of North Carolina Press. pp. 259–270. ISBN 9780807862261.
  12. ^ Shah, Aarushi H. (November 2012). "All of Africa Will Be Free Before We Can Get a Lousy Cup of Coffee: The Impact of the 1943 Lunch Counter Sit-Ins on the Civil Rights Movement". The History Teacher. 46 (1): 127–147.
  13. ^ "State v. Katz, 241 Iowa 115 | Casetext Search + Citator". Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  14. ^ Lambertson, Ross (2001). ""The Dresden Story": Racism, Human Rights, and the Jewish Labour Committee of Canada". Journal of Canadian Labour Studies. 47: 43–82.
  15. ^ Gunts, Edward (February 8, 2011). "Read's Drugstore Flap Brings Baltimore Civil Rights History to Life". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  16. ^ "Why the West Side Matters: Read's Drug Store and Baltimore's Civil Rights Heritage". Baltimore Heritage. January 7, 2011. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  17. ^ Greene, Christina (2006). Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina. University of North Carolina Press. pp. 65–69. ISBN 9780807876374.
  18. ^ a b Walters, Ronald (Spring 1996). "The Great Plains Sit In Movement, 1958–60". Great Plains Quarterly. 16: 85–94.
  19. ^ Graves, Carl R. (Summer 1981). "The Right to Be Served: Oklahoma City's Lunch Counter Sit-ins, 1958–1964". Chronicles of Oklahoma. 59 (2): 152–155.
  20. ^ Chafe, William Henry (1981). "The Sit-Ins Begin". Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom. Oxford University Press. pp. 71–101. ISBN 9780195029192.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn "The Sit-in Movement". International Civil Rights Center & Museum. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  22. ^ "Civil Rights". williampennproject. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  23. ^ "Hampton Roads Heritage Project". Norfolk Public Library. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  24. ^ White, Robert Melvin (1964). The Tallahassee Sit-ins and CORE, a Nonviolent Revolutionary Submovement (Ph.D.). Florida State University. OCLC 7563086.
  25. ^ Harris, Jessie (2011). Unfamiliar Streets: The Chattanooga Sit-ins, the Local Press, and the Concern for Civilities (M.A. thesis). Virginia Commonwealth University. OCLC 727069042.
  26. ^ Wallenstein, Peter (2013). "To Sit or Not to Sit: Scenes in Richmond from the Civil Rights Movement". Blue Laws and Black Codes: Conflict, Courts, and Change in Twentieth-Century Virginia. University of Virginia Press. pp. 114–141. ISBN 9780813924878.
  27. ^ Jensen, F. Kenneth (1992). "The Houston Sit-In Movement of 1960–61". In Beeth, Howard; Wintz, Cary D. (eds.). Black Dixie: Afro-Texan History and Culture in Houston. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 9780890964941.
  28. ^ Causey, Causey (February 3, 2016). "Houston Civil Rights Pioneer Holly Hogrobrooks Dies at 75". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  29. ^ "Houston Student Movement". Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  30. ^ Berman, David; Cole, Thomas R. (1998). The Strange Demise of Jim Crow: How Houston Desegregated Its Public Accommodations, 1959–1963 (Video recording). California Newsreel. OCLC 44721721.
  31. ^ Fleming, Cynthia Griggs (Spring 1990). "White Lunch Counters and Black Consciousness: The Story of the Knoxville Sit-ins". Tennessee Historical Quarterly. 49 (1): 40–52.
  32. ^ Zagumny, Lisa L. (Winter 2001). "Sit-Ins in Knoxville, Tennessee: A Case Study of Political Rhetoric". The Journal of Negro History. 86 (1): 45–54. doi:10.2307/1350178. JSTOR 1350178. S2CID 141496195.
  33. ^ Garrow, David J. (1989). Atlanta Georgia, 1960–1961: Sit Ins and Student Activism. Carlson Publishing. ISBN 9780926019058.
  34. ^ Hine, William C. (October 1996). "Civil Rights and Campus Wrongs". South Carolina Historical Magazine. 97 (4): 320.
  35. ^ "Remembering the Patterson Six: A decision to make a stand for civil rights earned two R-MWC students jail time—and a spot in history". News and Events. December 14, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  36. ^ Seals, Donald Jr. (January 2003). "The Wiley-Bishop Student Movement: A Case Study in the 1960 Civil Rights Sit-Ins". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 106 (3): 418–440.
  37. ^ Baker, R. Scott (2006). Paradoxes of Desegregation: African American Struggles for Educational Equity in Charleston, South Carolina, 1926–1972. University of South Carolina Press. pp. 142–143. ISBN 9781570036323.
  38. ^ "Recalling a 1960 Baltimore Sit-in". Politico. Associated Press. October 27, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  39. ^ Reynolds, William L. (2002). "Foreword: The Legal History of the Great Sit-in Case of Bell v. Maryland". Maryland Law Review. 61 (4): 761–794.
  40. ^ Hoyt, William (September 13, 1960). "'Sit-in' Protest in Flag Revealed at Council Meet". Arizona Daily Sun. p. 1. Retrieved October 9, 2023 – via
  41. ^ Schmidt, Christopher W. (February 2015). "Divided by Law: The Sit-ins and the Role of the Courts in the Civil Rights Movement". Law and History Review. 33 (1): 93–149. doi:10.1017/S0738248014000509. S2CID 232400894.
  42. ^ Pettus, Emily Wagster (February 10, 2015). "Anne Moody, Sat Stoically at Violent Woolworth's Sit-in, Dies at 74". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  43. ^ O'Brien, M. J. (2013). We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth's Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781617037443.
  44. ^ Battles, David M. (2008). The History of Public Library Access for African Americans in the South: Or, Leaving Behind the Plow. Scarecrow Press. pp. 137–138. ISBN 9781461672937.

Further reading