Today In History Spotlights Feb. 1, 1960, Greensboro Sit-Ins Begin

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Today’s History Spotlight

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The Greensboro Sit-Ins begin. In the North Carolina city of Greensboro, four African-American citizens staged a peaceful protest at the lunch counter in the Woolworth Department Store. Their names were David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and Joseph McNeil. On February 2, they were joined by many others, including Clarence Henderson, whom this author had the honor and pleasure of interviewing on September 14, 2019.

The Sit-Ins lead to an increase in civil rights protests across the south. At his Independence Day speech in 2019, President Trump remarked, “Clarence Henderson was 18 years old when he took his place in history. Clarence, thank you for making this country a much better place.” Henderson is currently the head of the North Carolina chapter of the Frederick Douglass Foundation.

What Happened On This Day – February 1

  • 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates on its way back to Earth. All 7 astronauts were killed in the disaster.
  • 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 15 years in exile. His triumphant return marked the beginning of the Iranian Revolution.
  • 1968 Eddie Adams takes one of the Vietnam War’s best-known pictures. The image of the execution of a Vietcong officer in Saigon helped build opposition to the war.
  • 1960 Four black students start the Greensboro sit-ins. Their refusal to leave a “whites only” lunch counter was a milestone in the fight against racial segregation in the United States.
  • 1884 The first fascicle of the “Oxford English Dictionary” is published. The book contained entries A to Ant.

Births On This Day – February 1

  • 1946 Elisabeth Sladen – English actress
  • 1931 Boris Yeltsin – Russian politician, 1st President of Russia
  • 1901 Clark Gable – American actor
  • 1894 John Ford – American director
  • 1552 Edward Coke – English judge, politician

Deaths On This Day – February 1

  • 2002 Hildegard Knef – German actress
  • 1981 Geirr Tveitt – Norwegian composer
  • 1976 Werner Heisenberg – German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1966 Buster Keaton – American actor, director, producer
  • 1851 Mary Shelley – English author

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Garrett Smith
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