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This Day in Pop Culture for February 1


1960: The First Lunch Counter Sit-In

One day in Greensboro, North Carolina, four black students (Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil, later known as the Greensboro Four) visited the local Woolworth store to purchase a few small items, but they broke the “rules” by setting themselves at the lunch counter. When they all asked for cups of coffee, they were refused and were told that “We don’t serve Negroes here. Negroes eat at the other end” (of the 66-seat counter). The first of many “sit-ins” began on this day in 1960 when the group were told to leave but they refused. The store manager thought that the quartet would eventually give up and leave. They didn’t until the store closed for the night. However, early the next morning the four of them returned to the counter along with about 15 more students and it caught the attention of the media and back on campus, the group formed the Student Executive Committee who sent the following letter to the president of Woolworth:

“Dear Mr. President: We the undersigned are students at the Negro college in the city of Greensboro. Time and time again we have gone into Woolworth stores in Greensboro. We have bought thousands of items at the hundreds of counters in your stores. Our money was accepted without rancor or discrimination, and with politeness towards us, when at a long counter just three feet away our money is not acceptable because of the colour of our skins…… We are asking your company to take a firm stand to eliminate discrimination. We firmly believe that God will give you courage and guidance in solving the problem. Sincerely Yours, Student Executive Committee.”

The following day, about 60 students showed up at the lunch counter including a few high schoolers. The student sat peaceably studying or reading books, but the F.W. Woolworth national headquarters wouldn’t budge either saying that they would “abide by local custom” and maintain its segregation policy. The next day, the group grew to over 300 people with some now sitting at the local S.H. Kress & Co. store. A meeting was set between students, college administrators, Woolworth and Kress but nothing was resolved. These sit-ins inspired others and the movement continued through July of 1960.

After nearly $200,000 in losses, the store manager sort of relented by asking four black employees to order a meal at the counter themselves and they were not refused. Soon, many stores began to desegregated their lunch counters. (Images: Wikipedia)

1865: Abraham Lincoln Outlaws Slavery

It was on this day in 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. The event was not ratified by the states until December 18 of that same year. Major Richard Robert Wright, Sr. a former slave, created National Freedom Day to honor this historic occasion and on June 30, 1948, President Harry Truman signed the bill that made today the Official National Freedom Day in the United States. (Image by orythys from Pixabay)

2004: The First Wardrobe Malfunction

On this day in 2004, 143.6 million watched the halftime show at the Super Bowl XXXVIII where Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed and two terms were created for the first time: “wardrobe malfunction” and “nipplegate.” At the end of the musical performance, Timberlake reached over to remove a piece of fabric covering Jackson’s breast which ended up exposing her nipple for about a second. It was considered a “malfunction” in that there was supposed to be another piece of material covering the nipple, but it failed to stay on. According to Jawed Karim, the incident led to the creation of YouTube. The FCC fined CBS $550,000, which was appealed. At the time, some fans didn’t think the act wasn’t a big deal.

1884: First Dictionary Entries

The Oxford English Dictionary publishes the first volume of its first dictionary which went from A to Ant.

2012: Best-Selling Car

The Toyota Corolla is known as the best-selling car of all time. Selling over 37.5 million units. (Image: Pixabay)

2018: Double Feature

Both a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse occurred on the same day.

Birthdays

  • 1919: Jackie Robinson (baseball player)
  • 1921: Carol Channing (actress)
  • 1927: Norm Prescott (animator)
  • 1929: Jean Simmons (actress)
  • 1937: Suzanne Pleshette (actress)
  • 1970: Minnie Driver (actress)
  • 1973: Portia de Rossi (actress)
  • 1977: Kerry Washington (actress)
  • 1981: Justin Timberlake (singer)

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Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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