Jackson civil rights leader remembers Woolworth sit ins


Many Jacksonians walk and drive down East main street each day, passing years of history.

Right behind me is the City Hall building, but it once was Woolworth. The place where African American students sat down to demand equality.

In October of 1960 Lane College students gathered at Woolworth for a sit in.

These students fought for the right to eat at the same tables that their white counterparts ate.

“I want to thank the Shaw family for preserving this history for us. A lot of people would not have done this", says civil rights leader, Shirlene Mercer.

Shirlene Mercer was one of the original four Lane College students who participated in the sit in at Woolworth.

Today she shared what she went through.

Mercer added, “[They] would kick us and do things to us. We were kids. I was 17 years old when I was at lane college. We were kids.”

As she reminisced the owners of The Old Country store unveiled the original seats, she once sat in.

Community leaders gathered to see history.

“I figured that they would be polished seats but it’s as if they just sat there. So you know, it felt real", says president of the Lane College chapter of the NAACP, Jovante Mahone.

And more importantly see it in person.

Community leader, Dr. Jerry Woods, “Without having to go to a history book or google or wikipedia, it’s right in front, right in front of you.”

After the unveiling the Shaws announced they will be donating the remainder of the chairs to different local organizations and museums. In Jackson, for 39 News I’m Imani Williams.

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