Dudley graduates share sit-in experiences

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Current Dudley High School students recently got a real-life history lesson when alumni shared their sit-in experiences.

“It was not easy,” said sit-in participant Doris Vincent.  “It was something that we had to do.  We knew we had to do it to have equal opportunities in this city and all over the world.”

Through a question and answer session, the students wanted to learn more.  What were the conditions that led up to the sit-in movement?  Brenda James recalled a time from her childhood.

“I remember mom taking me to the library to do class school assignments at the negro library because we couldn’t go to the public library because it was segregated,” James said.

James and Vincent were a part of a panel made up of mostly of Dudley High School graduates from 1959.  They said they were tired of the Jim Crow laws at that time, and it was time to end racial discrimination.  Clarence Henderson joined two members of the Greensboro Four at the segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter on February 2, 1960.

“Woolworth’s was chosen because being a chain store. We were hoping it would catch on and spread across all of their stores,” Henderson said.  “And it did all across the southeastern United States.”

James said Greensboro students helped to integrate more public places.

“We moved from Woolworth’s to the Carolina and National theater, to the cafeteria, to the theater on Tate Street,” James said.

Henderson said their mission to end racial discrimination was successful because they followed the principle of non-violent protest.  Current Dudley High School student Anaya Carson believes the students made the right choice in order to bring about change.

“If they didn’t do the non-violent movement, it would not have gotten anywhere,” Carson said.  
Other current students feel that when the sit-ins happened, they were standing up for their futures.

“I am blessed to receive all of the stuff I do have, and I don’t have to go through what they went through,” Alashia Farrar said.

Carson said the Class of 1959 is an inspiration, and she plans to follow in their footsteps.

“It empowers me to want to go out into the community and come back to my high school and talk about it,” Carson said.

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