Lunch Counter Sit-ins -
Sign #3 250 W. Main Street
Before the famous Greensboro sit-ins, Lexington staged their own starting in July of 1959. Members of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protested businesses that practiced discrimination in either service or employment. Working class lunch counters downtown in department stores such as Woolworth’s and Kresge’s* were among those targeted. Demonstrating peacefully, black activists would work to fill segregated lunch counters, using the intentional vacancy of a white sympathizer to fill with a black protester. Creative tactics and coordination with local law enforcement kept the sit-ins relatively peaceful.
These demonstrations continued throughout the early 1960’s but were ignored by local news outlets. Lexington’s Herald and the Leader acknowledge the large marches down main street, and the growing resistance against establishments such as the Phoenix Hotel, the Strand Theatre, and City Hall. Willing ignorance served as a means to downplay the movement, with what little coverage focusing on incidents of small arrests.