42 pages, $8 cover price
($5 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)
Release date: 2001
On a February day in 1960, four black teenagers—all of them freshmen at North Carolina A&T University—walked from their campus to the Woolworth’s store in downtown Greensboro, and took their seats at the segregated lunch counter. They didn’t know what would happen. They were simply determined to draw their own line, to declare on a frigid winter afternoon that racial segregation was wrong. But with their simple act of defiance, the Greensboro Four triggered a movement that quickly spread through the South.
In Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Montgomery and Nashville—particularly Nashville—other young people, acting with dignity, discipline and courage, also decided to take up the cause. They sat in at lunch counters, rode interstate buses in integrated groups, marched through the streets of the segregated South. They often paid a price for their resolve. Many were beaten; a few were killed, but they would not give in to the violence and terrorism of their day.
Where did it come from, this non-violent crusade in which many of the foot-soldiers were still in their teens? What was the source of their wisdom and bravery, their simple refusal to be turned around? This profile provides a partial answer to those questions. It begins with the memories of Franklin McCain, Joe McNeill and Jibreel Khazan, the surviving members of the Greensboro Four. Looking back on it now from the vantage point of four decades, they are able to reconstruct the facts of what happened—and perhaps more importantly, they are able to sort through their own motivations, and to paint a vivid portrait of the times.
The result is a story both subtle and stark, a human story of four young men who helped to change the course of Southern history. It is a story that deserves to be told and remembered, celebrated for the moment of heroism that it was.