The Reasons for the Greensboro Sit-In and Freedom Rides
From 1960 to 1961, the whole country was engulfed in massive “sit-down demonstrations,” the participants of which demanded an end to racial segregation in the service sector. Two main reasons for the massive spread of sit-in protests can be identified. First, most establishments at the time only allowed white-skinned people to sit. Moreover, some African-American places were not allowed to enter. This leads to the second reason – the severe segregation of public institutions in America, which was the highest manifestation of racism and xenophobia. In the first six months, about 200 thousand people took part in these performances in the South. Local authorities and racist organizations tried to suppress the movement by force, but it stopped only after a significant amount of the service sector was desegregated in the South. The sit-down demonstrations initiated a widespread campaign against racial segregation and led organizations to ethnic equality.
In 1961, in the movement against ethnological segregation, another form of struggle: was “flights of freedom,” with the primary leadership taken by the Congress of Racial Equality. Freedom Flights began on May 4, 1961, when a group of blacks and whites traveled by bus from Washington to New Orleans via southern Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Flight participants sought to ensure that the black was served on an equal basis with the whites in local restaurants, bus stops, buffets, gas stations, and motels, among other. “Freedom flights,” according to the government’s plan, were to end on May 17, 1961, but the movement spontaneously continued to develop. It has been chaired over time by four organizations: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Action Coordinating Committee, the Nashville Student Movement, and the Racial Equality Congress.
The “Freedom Voyages,” which ended in the second half of August 1961, was a force which has made a significant breach in the wall of racism in the South. Major businessmen who suffered considerable damage due to these “flights” and organized the financial support of mass demonstrations, pickets, and economic boycotts of racist enterprises had to make certain concessions. Many private entrepreneurs were forced to abandon discriminatory practices against the black.
Freedom Flights served as a fuse to ignite the black population’s social activity, suppressed by terror and intimidation for years and decades. Under pressure from the black movement President Kennedy on June 19, 1963 (the year of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Proclamation on the Emancipation of Black Slaves in the United States), introduced the Civil Rights Bill to the Congress. It was directed mainly against discrimination in the school system, electoral rights, and the service sector. Kennedy’s speech and strong opposition in Congress to the Bill led to further intensification of blacks’ struggle.
The main slogan of the movement was the demand for a new law on civil rights. A nationwide campaign began to support this Bill against the reactionary bloc of Dixicrates and right-wing Republicans in Congress. African-American leaders have warned the Congress that they will organize a massive “march on Washington,” a “sit-in” at the Capitol, and a national campaign of civil disobedience if obstruction of the presidential proposal is made. The sit-in movement further developed the African-American community for equal civil rights. The success of the campaigns made it clear that by their actions, people can change the environment.