My next stop was a double bonus, not only did I get to spend time with an old friend but it was an excellent reason to visit Greensboro, North Carolina. I adore exploring new places and Greensboro did not disappoint.
After a delightful dinner, Hector and I strolled around historic downtown. It was a vibrant scene for a week night; we were serenaded by a band playing in the park while a steady stream of pedestrians frequented local businesses in the carefully restored, old buildings.
Most notable was the F.W. Woolworth department store which now houses the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. On February 1, 1960 four freshmen from the nearby university walked inside and sat down at the lunch counter.
They were refused service by a white waitress who said, “We don’t serve Negroes here.” The young men didn’t budge until closing time. They returned the next day with a larger group.
The nonviolent group grew in size and quickly gained national attention. To further their impact, they began boycotting segregated businesses. On March 16th President Eisenhower expressed his sympathy with their efforts to “enjoy the rights of equality that they are guaranteed by the Constitution.”
By late July, the segregated businesses in Greensboro were suffering huge losses. In a major victory, the Woolworth counter served its first black customers on the 25th of that month. As they say, money talks.
Around the corner from Woolworths we espied a tall statue. Ever curious we walked over and discovered General Nathaneal Greene (the city’s namesake). I first met the Fighting Quaker during my Rhode Island trip back in 2007.
As the leader of the southern theater during the Revolutionary War, Greene was considered by General George Washington to be his most talented officer. Pretty impressive for a man who had been previously overlooked for service due to a limp sustained during childhood!
We wrapped up the evening with a tasty IPA from a local brewery. Overall, a charming introduction to a historic city!