Geneva Tisdale was working that day, in 1960, when four young black men sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, and asked to be served. The management refused, and protests ensued. Six months of negotiations and sit-ins later, the Woolworth’s management changed its policy and chose Geneva Tisdale and two of her co-workers to be the first African-Americans to eat at the lunch counter at which they worked. Thirty years later, Geneva Tisdale was still behind the counter. David Isay interviewed her the day it closed.

Recorded in Greensboro, NC. Premiered October 23, 1993, on All Things Considered.

Three students endure taunts as they stage a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, MS. Copyright 1997 State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.