Allen County Public Library’s Pontiac branch opens Black History Month events by remembering the Greensboro Four sit-in

Adrienne Santos, right, takes a photo of, from left, Condra Ridley, Melanie Cato and Tracey Pruitt, as they enjoy the Black History Month sit-in event at the Pontiac branch library. The event commemorates the 1960 Greensboro Four sit-in in Greensboro, N.C. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Pontiac branch library Assistant Manager Benita Browning, left, makes a note while talking with Robin B. Grissom during the sit-in event Thursday at the library branch, which commemorates the 1960 Greensboro Four sit-in. Seated at right are, from left, Melanie Cato, Tracey Pruitt and Linda Chrisman. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
The children's book "Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down," by Andrea Davis Pinkney, inspired Pontiac branch library Assistant Manager Benita Browning to organize an event for Black History month that commemorates the Greensboro Four sit-in in 1960. Participating in the event are, from back left to front right, Robin B. Grissom, Melanie Cato, Tracey Pruitt and Linda Chrisman. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

Stools became learning tools Thursday as the Pontiac branch of the Allen County Public Library kicked off Black History Month by inviting people to sit and remember the Greensboro Four and their 1960 sit-in that sparked protests nationwide against racial segregation.

The four young men — Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil — all were students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College.

On Feb. 1, 1960, they walked into a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro and sat down at the lunch counter, History Channel reported at http://www.history.com. The store had a policy of refusing to serve anyone except whites, but the young men sat in their seats until the store closed for the night.

The four young men returned the next day with more students, and the protest kept growing, eventually spreading to other cities around the country, History Channel reported. Woolworth’s and other businesses eventually ended their policy of discriminating against African Americans.

At the Pontiac branch library, 2215 S. Hanna St., visitors could sit from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at stools set up along a bookcase to simulate sitting at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. While seated, they could watch a brief documentary on the Greensboro sit-in and and learn more about the event.

An information board also contained historical information and photos about the Greensboro Four and their sit-in.

The event was organized by Pontiac branch Assistant Manager Benita Browning, who said she was inspired to do it after reading a children’s book about the event, “Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down,” by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

MORE BLACK HISTORY EVENTS

The Pontiac branch library also plans the following Black History Month events:

• “Black History Story & Song with Condra Ridley,” 10:30-11:15 a.m. Friday. Ridley, a noted local storyteller and former library staff member, will lead the group in a song and share stories.

• African-American Read-In, 5-6 p.m. Monday. People are invited to read from a variety of African-American books at the library or bring their own book to read or read something they have written. Locally and nationally, the read-in is intended to make literacy an important part of Black History Month.

• Free Breakfast, served 10-11 a.m. every Saturday in February. The program recalls the Black Panther Party launching the Free Breakfast for School Children program in January 1969 in Oakland, Calif., to feed children from low-income, inner-city families. The program was so successful, it was expanded to cities around the country.

OTHER LOCATIONS

To learn more about Black History Month and other February programming at Allen County Public Library branches, go to the library’s calendar at http://acpl.evanced.info/signup/list?et=all&lib=ALL&df=list&nd=7.

COMMENTS