Think Twice! Teens Take A Page From 1960s Sit-In By Marypat Hector

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As a teen Civil Rights Leader it is sometimes hard to get my peers on board. Today’s youth are not built the same as the teens were in the 1960’s. I find myself always borrowing from history to motivate them and show them they have a voice and together we can make a difference. Our new Think Twice campaign is really simple. We want young people to just Think Twice before using a gun. We want them to see how first hand they are effecting a generation when someone kills a person. So we show them images of a mother crying over a baby’s casket. We show them graphic images of people shot. We draw them a picture. The person they killed could have been them or someone they love. As a leader I had to first get them to believe just a small group of 26 can make a huge difference. I began to tell them of the story of the 24 students from Greensboro NC made a difference.

In 1960 on 2-11-1960 24 teens from William Penn High School and 2 students from High Point Central staged a sit-in.

Students took a week and a half to prepare themselves for the hatred they would have to face. They would meet every day to role play and act out scenarios with the help of the Rev. Benjamin Elton Cox, an original Freedom Rider and civil rights activist, along with taking an oath of nonviolence. Cox, a minister at Pilgrim Congregational Church, walked and sat with the students on that Thursday, along with the Rev. Fred Shuttleworth of Greensboro.

The women said that on that Feb. 11 in 1960 the school was full of excitement as they tried to keep the sit-in a surprise.  As usual no one could keep a secret and staff and teachers found out most just told them to be safe. While others told them not do it.

The same thing has been happening with this campaign some adults are afraid to let the children help us. Because they are afraid of what will happen. It just amazes me. Don’t they know “GOOD KIDS” are being shot just walking home?  

Well any way back to what I shared the bell rang at the end of the day, the 26 students walked up Washington Street to what was then Carl Chavis YMCA on Fourth Street. They met in the gym, put their books down and had a group prayer before heading out. They walked with the guys on the outside and the girls on the inside.

When these brave kids walked in they saw different seats open so they quickly sat down. White people started leaving so then the rest sat down. They started reading and doing homework. The sign said WHITES ONLY. The Waitress closed the counter and asked them to leave they told them they wanted to be served. Then the police came, but did not say anything to them. Then a crowd of white teens came in yelling and screaming and pushing them. The manager turned the lights out and closed the store. Since it had snowed kids throw snowballs and said they were afraid but the kind of afraid of what could happen if they did nothing. Just think 24 teens started that something that had never been done. Soon other adults and teens joined the protest and all because of 45 minutes of sitting.

So we decided that 24 teens would start our peaceful demonstration.  Just like in the 1960’s people yelled awful things out of their window people told there kids do not look.  The police even came and you know what after parents saw us on the news they gave permission for their children to support us next time. This is just the beginning #ThinkTwice

-Marypat Hector

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