|In the United States, racial segregation was
widespread in the South. Both public and private areas were divided
or established separately for whites and those of colored skin. The
sharing or use of certain restrooms, water fountains, restaurants,
lunch counters, swimming pools, hospitals, etc. was either
restricted or forbidden to African Americans. Blacks could not even
take oaths on the same Bibles.
As a peaceful form of protest, black and white students and
others sat at lunch counters that were segregated. They refused to
leave until they were served. Often, they were not served, but
arrested and taken away to jail. The first such protest took place
in a Woolworth's store in early 1960 in Greensboro, South Carolina.
Four black students waited for an hour, but they were never served.
Their protest was used as an example in nine other states across
the U.S., and many lunch counters began to give-in.
Martin Luther King, Jr. also joined in this form of nonviolent
protest, but when he tried, he was arrested. It was discovered that
he had not paid a parking ticket. He was unfairly sent to a prison
camp called Reidsville State Prison in Georgia. At that time,
presidential candidate and then-Senator John F. Kennedy urged the
judge that had decided King's case to release the civil rights
leader. King was set free, and this helped Kennedy immensely.
Kennedy would go on to win 2/3 of the African-American vote and
become President of the U.S.