Title: Experiencing a Non-Violent Protest, The Greensboro Sit- Ins
New York State Social Studies Standards:
Common Core Standards:
Students will demonstrate the ability to:
- Understand the impact the Greensboro Sit-Ins had on the Civil Rights Movement.
- Understand the different tactics individuals used in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Work effectively together in groups to recreate the sit-ins.
- Sit in: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down, written by by Andrea Davis Pinkney
- KWL Chart: Activating Prior Knowledge on the Civil Rights Movement
- Informative website about the Greensboro Sit- Ins: Greensboro Sit Ins
- Watch this video for teacher preparation: Restaging the Greensboro Sit ins
- Check out this website to learn more about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Founding Statement
- Lesson based on a presentation at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Some of my discussion questions are based from presentation. Additional information and access to the presentation may be found here: Sit In Teacher Guide
1. Pass out KWL chart to activate prior knowledge. Have students work in groups of three to discuss what they know about the Civil Rights Movement. One student from each group should be prepared to list what they know. Independently, have students write down what they want to know about the Civil Rights Movement.
2. Write this quote on the board: “Ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things.” Ask students to take a few minutes to reflect and then be ready to share their thoughts with their group. Once students have shared their reactions, invite groups to share their thoughts on the board. Provide each group with a different color. When they come back to their group they will pass their marker to another member of their group. This member will go up to the board and write a response to another group’s response. Do this until the entire class has participated in the activity.
3. Read Aloud: Sit in: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
4. Explain to students that during the Civil Rights Movement, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee prepared young people for non-violent protest. The Greensboro Sit-Ins inspired the creation of this committee. At the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. they recreate these trainings as an exhibit mixed with an experience of the Greensboro Sit-Ins.
5. Write “Jim Crow Laws” on the board. Ask students if they know about these laws. Once you’ve provided students with a definition introduce the four young men who protested the Jim Crow Laws. “These students walked into Woolworth’s around 3:00 in the afternoon. They walked up to the counter, sat down, and politely asked to be served. When they were refused, they just kept sitting there, peacefully and quietly.” At this time, ask students if they are ready to participate in a sit-in.
6. Invite four students to sit in the chairs at the lunch counter. Refuse to serve them. Invite the rest of the class to come up and stand behind them and stare.
7. “Now, I want you to imagine feeling all of those angry stares on the back of your neck. Imagine hearing people say, ‘what do they think they’re doing?"Ask the four participants how they feel.
8. Closing Activity. Have students return to their seats. Discuss.Key Discussion Questions:
- Where do you think the Greensboro four may have drawn their inspiration?
- Would you join the sit-ins and risk getting arrested?
- How do you think segregation affected everyday life?
- What are different ways to respond to injustice and discrimination?
- Do you think it is OK for a lunch counter to serve one person and not another simply based on skin color? Why or why not? What if the counters looked exactly alike? What if the owner of the restaurant wanted it that way? What if the customers and general public at the lunch counter thought it was OK? This was a very real question to ask in 1960.
- Do you think discrimination still occurs today?