The sit-in movement was a cornerstone of the Civil Rights era, and perhaps best known for the Greensboro Four—a group of college students who sat in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in North Carolina in 1960. Rooted in nonviolence, sit-ins became a far-reaching advocacy strategy that spanned lunch counters, department stores, courtrooms, and the White House.
Linda Benson, Ayanna Najuma, and Carolyn House (seated on the floor, left to right), staging a sit-in at Bishop’s Restaurant in Oklahoma City on May 31, 1963. Also pictured: Maurice Coffey, and Dwayne Cosby. Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society, John Melton Collection.
But while the Greensboro protest sparked the movement, one of the first sit-ins happened two years earlier at Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City.
Church leaders and activists gathered in front of the Municipal Building in Oklahoma City in December 1960, with a sign reading, ‘I’m Doing My Christmas Shopping at Katz This Year.’ Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society, John Melton Collection
It was staged by children, and among them was 7-year-old Ayanna Najuma. At StoryCorps, she remembered how it started with a NAACP Youth Council trip.
Top Photo: Ayanna Najuma (center) and other NAACP Youth Council staging a sit-in at Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City on August 19, 1958. Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society, John Melton Collection.
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Originally aired August 18, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.