Guilford County Board of Education
February 25, 2010
To:Members, Board of Education
From:Maurice O. Green, Superintendent
Beth L. Folger, Chief Academic Officer
Tony Watlington, Executive Director, Central Region
Maureen Robinson, K-8 Social Studies Specialist/Teaching American History Grant Coordinator
Date:February 19, 2010
RE:Fiftieth Anniversary Sit-In Partnership Activities
Fifty years ago segregation permeated life in Greensboro and throughout the South. On February 1, 1960, the foundation of segregation was shaken when four college students from North Carolina A&T State University sat at the whites-only counter at the F.W. Woolworth Store in Greensboro. These four students, two of whom were Dudley High School graduates (Jibreel Khazan--formerly Ezell Blair, Jr. and David Richmond), returned on subsequent days and were joined by additional students from NCA&T and other area colleges and universities who shared their belief that it was time for change. In the following days and weeks, the Sit-In movement spread throughout the South and stirred the nation, ultimately leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
It was two or three days after the February 1 sit-ins that four High Point high school students sat talking about this historic event with two adults, the Rev. B. Elton Cox and Miriam Fountain, a retired teacher. These four students, 14 to 16 years old, spurred on by the courage of the "Greensboro Four," decided to do the same thing in High Point. They were Brenda Jean Fountain, Miriam Lynn Fountain, Andrew Dennis McBride and Mary Lou Andrews. Rev. Cox, who later would become a Freedom Rider, was asked to lead the effort and agreed. The next two people on board were Arlene Wilkins and Peter Mason. From there, a full recruitment of students ensued. After daily planning and preparations, the targeted day arrived: February 11, 1960.
When the school day ended, 24 students from William Penn High and two from High Point High School met at the Fourth Street YMCA/YWCA for last-minute briefings and prayers. At approximately 4 p.m., the 26 students, led by Rev. Cox and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, began the march to Woolworth's in downtown High Point. The students returned the next day to find the lunch counter seats roped off where they stood behind them and sang. After a time, they left -- only to return over and over and over again.
The High Point February 11th Association is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the High Point sit-ins. On February 11, 1960, high school students in High Point held a Sit-In at the Woolworth store on South Main Street in High Point, just 10 days after the more famous Greensboro Woolworth Sit-In. The High Point February 11th event was the first high school Sit-In of the Civil Rights Movement. William-Penn High School students organized their sit-in by visiting the store pretending to shop. When one of the students doffed his hat, it signaled the others to take their seats at the lunch counter.
Mary Lou (Andrews) Blakeney, a member of the High Point City Council, was a 15-year old high school student when she participated in the High Point sit-in. As a leader in High Point today, she organized the High Point February 11th Association. The Association is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the High Point sit-ins with a black tie dinner at the Show Place in High Point on February 11.
To recognize and celebrate the significance of these events, Guilford County Schools (GCS) staff, in partnership with the International Civil Rights Museum and A&T, planned partnership activities for students to supplement lesson plans aligned to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.
Activities included the following:
Teach-Ins: On January 28, “Teach-Ins” occurred in 47 elementary schools. These schools were selected because they all had existing student teacher assignments from A&T, Bennett College, and UNCG.The college students participated in one of three ways:
* by participating in individual classroom(s) with teacher(s) present, supporting the conversation and discussion;
* by serving as the instructional leader, presenting the lesson, in individual classroom(s), with teacher(s) present and supporting the conversation and discussion; or,
* By instructing small clusters of students with teachers present.
A coloring book, provided by the International Civil Rights Museum, was also given to each elementary student.
Lesson plans in middle and high schools were supplemented with excerpts from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary titled, FEBRUARY ONE…the world can change in a day. Based largely on first-hand accounts and rare archival footage, the film documents the Sit-Ins and other events that took place in Greensboro that not only challenged public accommodation customs and laws in North Carolina, but served as a blueprint for the wave of non-violent civil rights protests that swept across the South and the nation throughout the 1960s.
GCS Choral Performance: Over 300 students representing middle schools from across the district, along with their choral directors, had planned to perform Celine Dion’s “The Power of The Dream” at the Celebration of Unity Service. However, due to inclement weather on January 31st, the service was cancelled and has not been rescheduled. An invitation was extended to all middle school choral students and teachers. Those accepting the invitation had chosen to participate on a voluntary basis and are very much disappointed that the weather precluded everyone’s plans for this event.
Essay Contest for High School Students: The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at A&T sponsored an essay contest for high school students. Essays were submitted whereby students described a cause that they believed to be worthy of civic action requiring personal, social, and political courage at a local, state, or national level. Entries were judged by members of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs’ Sit-In committee and six finalists were selected.
First place winner, Susan Thomas of Dudley High, received a $1,000 scholarship and presented her essay titled, “To End Human Trafficking” at the 50th Sit-In Anniversary Breakfast on February 1. Susan received the support of her advisor, Johnette McCain, at the breakfast.
Second place winner, Anna Knight of Northern High School, received a $500 scholarship. Anna also attended the 50th Sit-In Anniversary Breakfast on February 1, supported by her faculty advisor, Robin Farber. Anna’s essay was titled, “Justice for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Other finalists in the essay competition included Lenee Hutchinson, Greensboro College Middle College; Nallely Soto, Northern High; Jamelle Evans, Dudley High; and Travaris Reliford, Northern High.
International Civil Rights Museum Opening Ceremony: Schools were not advised to plan trips to the 8:00 am ribbon cutting event because the museum staff expressed the following concerns:
* The Elm Street corridor was closed off February 1 which would impede bus traffic.
* Logistical problems were anticipated due to very large crowds, including local and national media, within a very limited and small area on Elm Street.
* The museum staff would not be available to host and provide tours for student visitors on February 1.
With the above noted and due to school buses arriving at individual schools shortly before or after the ribbon cutting ceremony, the planning committee received no field trip requests from schools. Although school was subsequently cancelled due to inclement weather on February 1, principals were supportive of parents who chose to take their children to the event.
After visiting the museum, GCS curriculum specialists will design a grade level experience that tightly aligns with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Staff will propose that local expenditures be used to fund this trip for all students in the designated grade level, much like the current trip that third, fourth, and seventh graders take to the Greensboro Symphony.
The planning committee and our community partners expressed gratitude and appreciation for the manner in which all GCS schools actively participated in this historic learning event.
Attachment - Presentation