In this WSB newsfilm clip from 1958, African Americans hold a sit-in at a lunch counter to protest segregation, possibly in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The clip begins outside a building, with the camera facing the doorway. Cars are parked along the street, and people appear to gather in a crowd near the doors of the store. Inside the building, a policeman in shirtsleeves stands among the store goods, and later a white waitress leans against a counter. African Americans sit on stools along the lunch counter, and behind them two policemen converse. Another white waitress wipes down the counter in front of a girl; down the lunch counter, every seat appears taken, but no one has anything in front of them. The clip ends with two boys at the lunch counter sitting near a man who appears to be their father. One boy drinks from a glass, and another younger boy appears to eat something out of a bowl.
The direct action technique of sitting at a lunch counter until given service was used by a handful of African Americans during the 1950s to protest segregation. In 1958, sit-ins were held by local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Wichita, Kansas, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Both campaigns were eventually successful; in Oklahoma, where the sit-ins spread to Enid and Tulsa, nearly forty stores across the state had integrated their lunch counters by the end of the year. Sit-in campaigns the following year in Miami, Florida, and Saint Louis, Missouri, were not as successful. In Saint Louis, stores chose to remove their lunch counters rather than integrate. On February 1, 1960, four African American students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina sat down at a lunch counter in a F.W. Woolworth's store and declined to leave when they were refused service. The next day, several more African American students sat down at the same lunch counter and again refused to leave when they were not served. As word of the direct action protests against segregation spread, the number of African American students conducting similar protests around the country grew. By the fall of 1961, over one hundred communities in every Southern and border state had experienced sit-ins, and over seventy thousand demonstrators had been arrested. The excitement and determination of young civil rights workers led to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) holding a conference for the students at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina April 1960, where the students formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization influential in the Civil Rights movement for the next several years.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of African Americans protesting segregation by conducting a lunch counter sit-in, possibly in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1958, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0758, 9:30/10:01, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.