After World War II, African American college students across the South felt the oppressive weight of racial segregation. Although many young blacks were better educated than working class whites who drove buses and waited on tables, they still faced a discriminatory social system based on white supremacy. But, many young blacks had had enough. They were ready to take action in order to secure equal rights for themselves and their people.

On February 1, 1960, the national student movement began, when four African American college students from North Carolina A&T sat down at a segregated lunch counter in a Greensboro Woolworth's store. The students action sparked a movement that spread aross the South during the winter of 1960, forever transforming the civil rights movement.


As the sit-ins began, leaders held nonviolence training sessions. Everyone who wanted to participate in sit-ins went to the training. They discussed the teachings of Gandhi and Dr. King. They learned about statements and procedures developed by various groups. It took tremendous strength to remain nonviolent.

What is a sit-in? When and where did they happen? What were the causes of these sit-ins? Why were these sit-ins so controversial? How did sit-ins lead to the formation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee? What impact did these sit-ins have on society then? What is the long term effect? How did the young men and women of the Civil rights Movement manage to remain faithful to the principle of nonviolence?

Primary Sources

Diana Nash

Sit-ins: Atlanta, Georgia

Sit-ins: Nashville, Tennessee

Civil Rights movement: 1960's

Diane Nash video

A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King

Images from the Sit-In Movement

Secondary Sources


The Greensboro 4

The year 1960

Cambridge Riots of 1963 and 1967