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Sit-in

From Academic Kids

A sit-in or sit-down is a form of direct action that involves one or more persons nonviolently occupying an area for protest, often political, social, or economic change. Sit-ins were first employed by Mahatma Gandhi in Indian independence movement and were later expanded on by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others during the American Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960s students used this method of protest during the student movements such as the protests in Germany.

In a sit-in, protesters seat themselves and remain seated until they are evicted, usually by force, or until their requests have been met. Sit-ins have been a highly successful form of protest because they cause disruption that draws attention to the protest and by proxy the protesters' cause. The forced removal of protesters and sometimes the answer of non-violence with violence often arouses sympathy from the public, increasing the chances of the demonstrators reaching their goal. Sit-ins usually occur indoors at businesses or government offices but they have also occurred in plazas, parks, and even streets.

A sit-in is similar to a sitdown strike. However, whereas a sit-in involves protesters, a sitdown strike involves striking workers occupying the area in which they would be working and refusing to leave so they can not be replaced with scabs. The sitdown strike was the precursor to the sit-in.

Sit-ins were an integral part of the non-violent strategy of civil disobedience that ultimately ended racial segregation in the United States. The Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Congress of Racial Equality and FOR conducted sit-ins as early as the 1940s, but the first nationally publicized sit-in was at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, on 1 February 1960. Many of the participants in sit-ins were college students and Historically black colleges and universities played a critical role in implementing sit-ins.

With the encouragement of Melvin B. Tolson and James L. Farmer students from Wiley and Bishop Colleges organized the first sit-ins in Texas in the rotunda of the Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall, Texas; a move that directly challenged the oldest White Citizens Party in Texas and would culminate in the reversal of Jim Crow laws in the state and the desegregation of postgraduate studies in Texas by the Sweatt v. Painter verdict.

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