February 1, 1960: Four young men sit down at the Woolworth's counter in Greensboro North Carolina and order coffee and doughnuts.
And began to change the world.
This was not the first "sit-in", but thanks to television and honest news reporting (versus entertainment, the youngest of you will not recognize the difference), it became the face of the segregated South.
February 1, 2010: The International Civil Rights Center & Museum opens in that very same Woolworth's, complete with the original historic lunch counter, never moved from it's original location.
In 1960, I was 6 years old in Louisiana. Everyday, whether or not I went to school was determined by the morning news. Were the schools open? Was Ruby Bridges actually going to show up and try to go to school at William Frantz? Were the police there? Was it safe? Would there be riots? For those who weren't there, Ruby Bridges was the 6-year-old child asked to integrate New Orleans schools. She was the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.
So even at the age of 6, the civil rights movement was part of everyday life for deep South children, both black and white. The adults made the laws and the decisions to overturn them. We kids, both black and white, were along for the ride.
In retrospect, I'm so proud that it was our generation that took that ride, sat in those lunch counter seats, rode the buses, marched in the streets, and reached across the artifical divide.
As soon as the weather clears, I plan on being down at that museum.
The International Civil Rights Center & Museum
203 South Elm Street
Greensboro, N.C. 27401