A Look Back: Charlotte and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- Part II
The sit-ins opened most lunch counters but segregation remained in other public places. In 1963, charismatic student Jesse Jackson at NC A & T University organized mass protests in Greensboro and nearby cities. As hundreds of students picketed movie theaters week after week, it became clear to America that this issue would not go away.
Events in Charlotte gave hope that change could come peacefully. In response to a march by black dentist Dr. Reginald Hawkins and Johnson C. Smith University students, Mayor Stan Brookshire worked with the Chamber of Commerce to arrange for black and white businessmen to go two-by-two to eat together at the city’s elite restaurants. By the end of May 1963, desegregation was a reality. The New York Times and other national press applauded.
The stage was set for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. On June 20, 1963 the Act was introduced in the US House. Despite long and concerted resistance by many white Southern legislators, it made its way thru the House then the Senate over the next year. President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law on July 2, 1964!
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Would sit-ins be as effective today? Would you participate in a sit-in?