Woolworth’s Lunch Counter at North Carolina School of Science and Math

A portion of the Greensboro, NC, Woolworth’s lunch counter, made famous by the February 1960 lunch counter sit-in, is housed by the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC. Its counterpart from the Durham Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, which took place one week later, now resides at the North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM).

When the Durham Woolworth’s shuttered and its interior components went on the auction block in 1995, then executive director of NCSSM, Dr. John Friedrick, countered the lone bid from a salvage house in order to usher the historic lunch counter into safe-keeping.  A section of the original 90-foot lunch counter, along with much of the glassware and original kitchen equipment, now resides in an area of the school’s student union called the Woolworth Room.  (Another portion of the counter was donated to North Carolina Central University, where it is now on permanent display in the lobby of James E. Shephard Memorial Library.)

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Carrboro-based filmmaker Jesse Paddock discusses the Durham Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in with students at the North Carolina School of Science and Math. Paddock was the lead filmmaker for the Counter Histories film on the Durham sit-in.

On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the faculty of NCSSM invited filmmakers from SFA’s recent Counter Histories project to show films documenting the lunch counter movement and to lead a discussion with the school’s student body around the civil rights issues of yesterday and today.

NCSSM students initiated thoughtful dialogue and asked smart questions
NCSSM students watched Counter Histories films and discussed civil disobedience in 2015.

The students initiated thoughtful dialogue and asked smart questions.  What civil rights issues are 16- and 17-year-old North Carolinians facing in 2015?  What does civil disobedience look like, and what is the role of young people in today’s struggle for greater civil rights?  And what does it mean to host a relic of such historical significance in the student union of one’s high school?