By Danny Schechter,
Author of The Crime Of Our Time.
On February 1, 1960, four students sat down at a lunch counter at the former Woolworth's store in Greensboro North Carolina.
4 students! Just four!
They were protesting racial segregation. They were denied,
service, harassed and arrested.
Greensboro was and still is a backwater, yet their courage and
commitment sparked and helped drive a national movement that
would, within a few years, transform this country.
Martin Luther King may have had the dream but they had a scheme--a way of getting attention, a way of showing that if you want to make change, you have to be willing to act.
Few of us remember their names. I knew one, Joseph McNeil, because he went to my high school in the Bronx before heading to AT&T, a traditionally black college, later famous as the school at which Jesse Jackson played football.
Today there is a marker down the street from where the Woolworth's once stood. (At least there was when I was last there in the 80's.)
Woolworths had once been one of the best-known brands in America for decades.
The chain went from fame to infamy to out of business. Lunch counters were soon out, and so was Woolworths despite its skycraper in downtown Manhattan. It would later be bought up, broken up, and sold off by an avaricious private equity firm, which, in a mad search for profits, drove the company under. Some stores survived in the UK and Australia but not in the USA. There used to be one across the street from where I live. It is now a GAP.
Formal segregation may be gone, even if an interracial couple
couldn't get a marriage license recently in Louisiana, but class separation and inequality in America has deepened sharply The middle class that the Greensboro 4 hoped to join as college graduates is only a memory for many.
Black communities across this country have been savaged by the
foreclosure crisis. Black unemployment is twice that of whites, a
figure that in real terms stands at 20% or more. That means 40% for minorities!
Millions of families are going backwards to homelessness, and
insecurity. Downward mobility is now a mass phenomenon. If you don't believe me, look at your bank statement. Check out the added charges, look at your credit card
These large banks are run by the miscreants FDR called
"banksters. They" are reporting super profits and giving out obscene bonuses. Their lobbyists are blocking new regulations and eroding old ones while presiding over the largest transfer of wealth in history from the working poor to the flamboyant superrich.
Racialization has been displaced by financialization. Now the
"action" in the Tar Heel State is down the road in Charlotte where
the Bank of America is based.