I was in Greensboro, North Carolina recently and visited the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Located in an old F.W. Woolworth retail store, it’s the original site where in 1960, four African-American college freshman sat down at the store’s “whites only” lunch counter. I was in first grade in nearby Charlotte when it happened. While it wasn’t the first “sit in,” it was remarkable for sparking similar nonviolent protests that spread like wildfire throughout the South. As more and more sit-ins happened, people started boycotting stores with whites-only lunch counters. Sales in those stores dropped by a third, prompting the entire Woolworth chain to eventually relent and desegregate.
Two things from that incident are worth remembering:
1. It was four college freshman. They had no influence, or financial or political backing. Just a commitment to see change happen. It doesn’t always take an expensive campaign to change the culture, just vision, passion, and a little nerve.
2. They took a risk, and it inspired others to do the same. Sometimes you might be all it takes to inspire a movement. It may be risky and dangerous, but when others see a hero, courage becomes contagious.
What situation are you facing right now that only you can fix, and how many others would your actions inspire?