New Civil Rights Museum Honors Sit-In Legacy
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue


The Greensboro Four launched the lunch counter protests in 1960. (Source: The International Civil Rights Center and Museum)

Counteracting racism was never as literal as it was on Feb. 1, 1960, when four college students decided to protest segregation by holding a sit-in at a Woolworth’s Department Store in Greensboro, North Carolina. At the time blacks were allowed to shop in the store, but not eat at its lunch counter.

Fifty years later, that building is now home to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which held its grand opening Monday to a crowd of almost 4,000. Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and Jibreel Khazan (formerly Ezell Blair Jr.)–three of the four men who started the Greensboro sit-in–were in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson Sr., North Carolina Gov. Bev Purdue, were also at the ceremony.

“These four young men were just simple freshman at North Carolina A&T State University. They sat down and had the courage and intestinal fortitude to make a difference.” says Skip Alston, co-founder of the museum.

The “whites only” lunch counter and stools where the men sat have never been removed and is one of the museum’s main attractions. Remnants of Jim Crow segregation and a memorial honoring civil rights leaders are also on display.

Visitors to the museum will be able to see an exhibit that highlights accomplishments of African Americans in addition to one that covers discrimination in most aspects of society including: education, voting, employment, transportation, housing and recreation. People will also learn about international acts of disobedience, including those occurring in Tiananmen Square in China and in South Africa during apartheid.

Restoring the old Woolworth building took 16 years and $23 million worth of renovations. The museum also received $14 million in Federal Historic Preservation Tax incentives along with corporate donations to open in time for the 50th anniversary of the sit-in and Black History Month.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is open six days a week. ( It is closed Mondays.) Admission prices range from $4-$6. The museum will host a 50th anniversary gala Feb. 13. For more information call (336) 274-9199 or email

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.