Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Opening of The International Civil Rights Museum

A grand weekend of festivities marking the opening of the old Woolworth Building in downtown Greensboro, now the International Civil Rights Museum, will begin Thursday, January 28 with a Town Hall Meeting on The State of the Civil Rights Movement, featuring Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and ESPN's Steve Smith. The weekend will culminate with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, February 1 at 8:00 a.m. downtown at February One Place. I look forward to taking part in many of the activities.

I feel close to this significant historical event and place. I was 12 years old in 1960 when the couraegous four students took their places in history at the Woolworth's lunch counter. I lived 5 blocks from downtown. The events are a vivid memory.

One of my best friends, Miles Wolff, wrote a book which serves as the most authoritative account of the events, "Lunch at the 5 and 10". The manager of Woolworth's at the time, Clarence "Curly" Harris, was a dear friend of mine from church and the Lion's Club. Curly invited me into his home a number of times to view his extensive memorabilia and scrapbooks on the events. Ralph Johns, the local downtown merchant who was the key "behind the scenes" figure and supporter of the students, was such a memorable and familiar character of the time.

In addition to the closeness I feel to the setting, the friends, and the acquaintances associated with the events, I have always been so proud that this important "leg" of the courageous civil rights movement in America took place in my hometown. Seldom are we able to step back in history in such a significant way as will be afforded us on February 1, 2010.......50 years to the day. I would not miss it.

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