Segments in this Video

Typical Southern Town (03:40)


In the interval between the Montgomery bus boycott and Februrary 1, 1960, the Civil Rights Movement was silent. Railroad tracks separated whites and blacks in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ezell Blair's Childhood (02:45)

Ezell Blair Jr. was born on the eve of WWII. After the war, his father returned home a changed man. Ezell Sr. became one of the early members of the NAACP in Greensboro.

Race Relations in Greensboro (02:42)

Throughout the 1950s, the Blair children were challenged to look beyond the comfortable veneer of the black community. Segregation meant that regular interaction between races was non-existent. Ezell Blair Jr. remembers seeing the KKK.

Greensboro's Segregated School System (01:52)

Ezell Blair Jr. attended Dudley High, an all black school. He became friends with Franklin McCain. who had been raised Washington D.C. where the Jim Crow laws had been repealed in the 1950s. The two boys befriended David Richmond.

Challenging the System (02:32)

Martin Luther King Jr. came to Greensboro in 1958 and spoke at Bennett College. Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond were in the crowd. TV spread images of oppression and conflict. Images of Emmett Till and Gandhi inspired the boys.

Poor and Proud (02:06)

In the fall of 1959 Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, and David Richmond enrolled in North Carolina A&T, an all black college. Blair was assigned a room with Joe McNeil. He was not a typical college freshman. He spoke of ideals and quoted Shakespeare.

Planning a Revolution (03:32)

Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil became inseparable. The friends began to consider a public attack on the institution of segregation. Impetus for action came when Joe McNeil was denied service at the Greyhound bus station.

January 31, 1960 (01:50)

Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil agreed it was time to take a stand. Blair needed to get his family's approval. His father warned them of the effect their actions would have.

February 1, 1960 (02:49)

Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil gathered in front of the library. The young men were nervous about what was to come. They took seats at the lunch counter and waited.

Accused of Starting Trouble (02:38)

After sitting down at the Woolworth's lunch counter Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil felt relief at taking the bold step. They were refused service because of their skin color.

Peaceful Protest (02:34)

After Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil were refused service at the lunch counter, a police officer came in with a night stick. The men describe the tension. The story closed early and the men promised to return.

Agreement in Principle Only (01:48)

On the sidewalk outside Woolworth's a reporter from the Greensboro Recorder asked Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil if they would return to the lunch counter the next day. No supporters returned with them.

February 2, 1960 (01:41)

Reporters gathered before Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil returned to the lunch counter. Race relations in the South had become a staple of TV news. Everyone in and around Greensboro had learned of the protest.

February 3, 1960 (02:48)

There was a scramble for seats when the lunch counter opened on the third day of the peaceful protest. Media coverage had brought a huge crowd of white students to oppose Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil.

February 4, 1960 (03:48)

On the fourth day of the peaceful protest the chancellor of Woman's College arranged a meeting between the parties. Black and white female students joined the sit in started by Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil.

February 5, 1960 (01:59)

On the fifth day of the peaceful protest there was a huge crowd of observer's inside Woolworth's. Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, David Richmond, and Joe McNeil recall their anxiety at the potential consequences. Other cities followed their example.

February 6, 1960 (03:44)

On the sixth day of the peaceful protest 1,000 people filled Woolworth's to see what would happen. The protest had spread to the lunch counter at Kress department store. Woolworth's closed early because of a bomb threat.

Power of Direct Action Protest (02:35)

A moratorium was called on the lunch counter sit in to give officials a chance to work things out. Students returned to Woolworth's and Kress. On July 21, 1960 the lunch counter was integrated. The Civil Rights Movement was transformed.

Greensboro Divided (05:03)

Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, and Joe McNeil left town after college. David Richmond stayed in town where he was always a target for for his part of the Civil Rights Movement. He worked as a janitor and died in 1990 without leaving Greensboro.

February 1, 2002 (03:18)

Ezell Blair Jr., Frank McCain, Joe McNeil, and David Richmond's children reunited in Greensboro for the dedication of the February One monument on the A&T campus. The Woolworth's building has been turned into a civil rights museum.

Credits: February One (00:36)

Credits: February One

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February One

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



On February 1st, 1960, four men dressed in their Sunday best sat down at a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. but were refused service because of the color of their skin. In this inspiring documentary, the Greensboro Four themselves tell the story of the lunch counter sit-in that revitalized the civil rights movement and established a model of student activism for the coming decade. In addition, Prof. William Chafe places the sit-in within the context of Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Prof. Vincent Harding discusses the role of television in helping to spread word of the events in Greensboro.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL49777

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Tells the neglected story of why and how four teenagers ignited a major protest movement. Educators will long feel a debt of gratitude to the filmmakers for this wonderful addition to the available resources on the modern African-American freedom struggle.”  —Prof. Clayborne Carson, Stanford University      

“Tremendous! An excellent teaching tool that I wish had been available when I was in the classroom. A MUST for those teaching and studying American history.”  —John Hope Franklin (From Slavery to Freedom)

“This splendidly rendered, gripping documentary tells how four sit-in students risked everything to start an unprecedented, spontaneous non-violent revolution.”  —Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton  

“Most impressive is the film’s sense of immediacy: when one of the men recalls, ‘and then we took our seats,’ you’ll feel as if you’re sitting right next to them for a pivotal moment in American history. Superb documentary, highly recommended.”  —Video Librarian (Editor’s Choice)      

Honorable Mention, Organization of American Historians Erik Barnouw Award

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