There are moments in history that should not be forgotten but sometimes it is hard to understand why those moments have an effect on our lives.
Sixty years ago, this month, four black university students in Greensboro, North Carolina sat down at a segregated lunch counter. The students became known as the Greensboro Four and they were the catalyst for sit-ins across the South, challenging businesses who refused service to black patrons or made them sit in a specific area away from the white people. Less than two weeks later, Nashville students followed the Greensboro Four, and began their own sit-ins. This historic moment marked the beginning of a peaceful movement across the South.
Flash forward to today, and all people no matter race, gender or sexual orientation cannot be denied service or education because of their skin colors or beliefs. There is no moment when we cannot go to a restaurant with our friends and enjoy a dinner together no matter the color of the skin. The Greensboro sit-in created a kick start to college communities sending a message of unity all across the South.
I say it is important to look back at these historic moments, not only for what they change in history but also because, although they seem larger than our everyday lives, or “don’t concern us,” most of the time there is some piece of these historic moments that connect to home.
For example, the topic I brought up earlier inspired a research dive for me.
When I realized last week was the 6oth anniversary of these sit-ins and when I learned that sit-ins also occurred in Nashville, I thought about the idea of not feeling connected to historic moments in life when they happened at a distance.
In October 1960, Wilma Rudolph, a Clarksville resident, who won three gold medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, was welcomed home to Clarksville in the first publicly integrated municipal event.
It just made me think about the fact that we often brush aside moments in history because they might not relate to us. But just like with localizing a story, there are more connections to large moments in history than meets the eye.
We live in a time where we continue to work towards equality that couldn’t have been imagined 60 years ago, and that is enough to stop saying, “It doesn’t affect me, so why should I care?”