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Filed under: Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Kid-Friendly Trips

Making Civil Rights History in downtown Greensboro…

April 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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One of the most unique places that we’ve visited is found in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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The International Civil Rights Center & Museum, located downtown, is in the same building that housed the now famous Woolworth’s sit-in, where in 1960, four young black college students decided to protest the segregation that they faced every time they visited Woolworth’s (and any other business for that matter).  While anyone could purchase items from the Woolworth’s department store, when it came to their diner, there were different rules depending on the color of your skin.  White?  Have a seat, order what you like, take your time enjoying it.  Black?  Stand at the register to order, wait for your food; when it was done, you were handed it in a to-go bag and you took it elsewhere to eat—you were not allowed to sit at the diner’s counter.

DSC_0087_087wInitiating a peaceful protest, the young men quietly sat up to the counter and waited to be helped.  They were not, and they left at closing.  They returned the next day. This continued over days with other students joining in to spell the group.  The Woolworth’s sit-in lit a flame, and soon there were dozens of sit-ins being held all over the east…

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum offers guided tours through themed galleries that cover segregation and desegregation, from the ‘Jim Crow’ era though current times.  The museum is very well laid out, with multi-media used for displays, and varied exhibits.  The Hall of Shame is a little graphic for kids under about 10, but it was pretty eye opening for the rest of us (we were warned by our tour guide and just walked our littles though – it was a non-event).  We were taken through a mock ‘colored’ entrance that was a scaled down reproduction of the black-only entrance that used to be at the Greensboro train station; the station is located just a few blocks from the ICRCM, but the segregated entrance is no longer part of the building.  There were touch screens where we could explore subjects further, and the story about the two-sided Coke machine was pretty bizarre!  We also got to see the original Woolworth’s counter where the sit-in movement originated.  In fact, the original counter is even larger than when the sit-in occurred!  After Woolworth’s had to close over the controversy, when they reopened ready to serve ALL customers, their business boomed and they had to put in more seating!

DSC_0096_096wThe International Civil Rights Center & Museum is open every day except Monday; photographs are not allowed beyond the lobby.  The ICRMC is family friendly (you may want to rush younger kids through the Hall of Shame, but the museum is a great educational stop!!!) You can check out the details on hours and admission fees on their website at sitinmovement.org.

Definitely plan a visit to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum when you are near Greensboro, North Carolina! It’s a fascinating look at a pivotal part of Greensboro’s history – a pivotal part of our entire nation’s history.

Find a nice campground or RV park to stay at near Greensboro, North Carolina.

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