May 28, 1963: Woolworth Sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi

On May 28, 1963, in Jackson, Mississippi, the Woolworth sit-in occurred. “This was the most violently attacked sit-in during the 1960s. A huge mob gathered, with open police support while the three of us sat there for three hours. I was attacked with fists, brass knuckles and the broken portions of glass sugar containers, and was burned with cigarettes. FBI agents were observing inside but took no action.” —Tougaloo College professor John Salter (Hunter Bear), seated in photo with Tougaloo College students Joan Trumpauer (now Mulholland), and Anne Moody (author of Coming of Age in Mississippi).

Woolsworth Sit-In

Photo: Fred Blackwell, Image ID #2381, Wisconsin Historical Society.

For three hours, the group endured insults and attacks by an increasingly violent white mob. Tougaloo student Memphis Norman was physically thrown from his seat and kicked in the head as he lay on the floor. The rest of the white mob slapped the protesters, hit them with items from the lunch counter, and even burned cigarettes on their skin. Others dumped drinks on the protesters or laughed as others covered them in sugar, mustard, and ketchup. Jackson Daily News photographer Fred Blackwell took the now iconic photo of the sit-in that depicted the anger of the white mob. [Source.]

The Southern Foodways website, Counter Histories, offers a short film on the Jackson sit-in.

Counter Histories: Jackson, Mississippi from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

More information on the sit-ins movement is available from the Zinn Education Project website here. Learn more about the Jackson sit-in in the book We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired and related website.

The Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement website also offers important information and resources, as does the book Coming of Age in Mississippi.

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There are 4 comments by other visitors:

  • God bless the courage of this woman Anne Moody.. I cannot believe people are so evil and have the nerve to raise children! ! Can they not feel their own hearts. Do they know that what comes around goes around. Our religious leaders have tricked them into believing that they will be forgiven. They will all suffer the consequences if they have not made amends to those they have violated and behave as a loving being to all for the rest of their days. Todays fall in power from the free world to the likes of the 1% satanic rule is the karma bestowed to all you heartless beings, you who have sold your souls for riches and fame. You have taken many good souls down with you and so should do what you can for the good of planet, man and all living beings to make amends.

    Response shared by Cindy-lee — February 9, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

  • It’s beginning to feel like 1963 again. It saddens me to realize that so little has changed. The attacks seem not to be generated and supported by authorities in positions of power but not just in the old Confederacy so it may become even worse than it was back then. As a retired Social Studies teacher and someone who was active back in the 1960s I see too many similarities to feel comfortable these days. I remember the attacks in Detroit, Chicago, Watts and so many other places back then so I worry that history may be “repeating” itself in too many ways. God willing we’ll do better in the future than we did following the 1960s.

    Response shared by Edward G. — May 28, 2015 @ 11:14 am

  • When we went to the jail in Jackson to pay their bail and get them out they told us that the prison wardens would take a hose every night and soak their straw beds so they would wake up stiff and tired.

    Response shared by Gary Busch — May 28, 2015 @ 11:30 am

  • Soul suckers is what I call them. Preaching hate to all who are NOT like you!

    Response shared by Anonymous — May 30, 2015 @ 1:49 pm

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