Our View: History was made here, too
It was a historic day in High Point 53 years ago when 26 high school students, inspired by four Greensboro college students, entered the F.W. Woolworth’s store on S. Main Street, sat down at the “whites only” lunch counter and asked for service.
And it was a milestone event last week in Greensboro when those 26 high school students were recognized during the International Civil Rights Center & Museum’s annual anniversary banquet to commemorate the Greensboro sit-ins.
During the banquet held Feb. 2 at Koury Convention Center, museum officials honored the high school students from High Point by reading the 26 names of participants. Awards also were presented to two of the sit-in’s four organizers, Andrew McBride of Milford, Conn., and Mary Lou Andrews Blakeney of High Point. The other two organizers of the High Point sit-in, sisters Lynn Fountain Campbell and Brenda Fountain Hampden, did not attend the banquet.
On Monday in High Point, the anniversary of the Feb. 11, 1960, sit-in was observed with the annual prayer vigil on S. Wrenn Street at the memorial that now recalls that historic day in High Point. The memorial, unveiled in 2009 on the 49th anniversary of the sit-in, stands near where the Wrenn Street entrance of the Woolworth’s store was located. The High Point Plaza Hotel and Conference Center is located on the site now.
That action by the 26 high school students is believed to have been the first, if not only, sit-in planned and carried out by high school students in response to the sit-in movement sparked in Greensboro by the four N.C. A&T State University students. Twenty-four of the High Point students attended William Penn High and the two Fountain sisters attended High Point High School (now Central). The sit-in led to desegregation efforts in the city and creation of a citizens committee that eventually became High Point’s Human Relations Commission.
Congratulations are in order for Skip Alston, chairman of the museum’s board of directors, and other museum officials for recognizing the courage of the high school students from High Point. We suggested years ago as the civil rights museum was developing that the story of the High Point students should be incorporated into the museum.
Now that Alston and museum leaders have recognized the High Point students, the next logical step would be to figure out how to include their story at the museum, too. After all, those 26 high school students in High Point— as did thousands of other college students around the country — drew their inspiration from the courageous Greensboro Four.