Women of the Movement -
Voices in the Black Freedom Struggle
Sign #4 100 E. Main Street
Peaceful defiance by tireless women led the fight for racial equality in Lexington’s Black Freedom Struggle. The Phoenix Hotel sit-ins, organized by local Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) president Julia Etta Lewis to protest discriminatory policies in hotel service and accommodation, are one victory in this movement.
Ms. Lewis, along with the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Audrey Louise Grevious and others, sat day after day in the hotel’s restaurant waiting for someone to acknowledge their patronage. Despite the lack of news coverage by the Lexington Herald and the Lexington Leader, the hotel quietly changed its policy and eventually served the civil resisters.
Triumphs such as this were possible in part because of the unified efforts of NAACP and CORE local chapters. This close association strengthened professional leadership for sit-ins and stand-ins protesting the segregation of other restaurants, stores, and movie theatres. Strong black women encouraged the integral and often under-reported synergies of community bridge activism.