In the Fall of , Lawson, a Vanderbilt University divinity student, begins regular strategy meetings and nonviolent training sessions for students attending Nashville's Black colleges: But Rock Hill continues to resist any form of racial equality and sit-ins resume there in June. Two days after the first sit-in, the Black ministers vote to support the students and the NCLC organizes an economically crippling boycott of downtown merchants. When the 81 students are convicted of "Disorderly Conduct" they refuse to pay the fine, choosing instead to serve their time in jail. The students were dressed like they were on the way to church or going to a big social affair. The mayor knew now that he would have to speak to us. I was particularly interested in that, as opposed to his just being a mayor. For more information on the Nashville Civil Rights Movement:
There was a fear there, there was an awe there. When we got to 18th and Jefferson, Fisk University students joined us. We walked by a place where there were workers out for the noon hour, white workers, and they had never seen anything like this. We filled Jefferson Avenue; it's a long, long way down Jefferson. We marched on and started up the steps at City Hall, and we gathered on the plaza that was a part of City Hall itself. He said that if we go down on this particular day, he understood that the police would stand to the side and let a group of white hoodlums and thugs come in and beat people up, and then we would be arrested. It was a Woolworth in the heart of the downtown area, and we occupied every seat at the lunch counter, every seat in the restaurant, and it did happen. Nashville becomes the first Southern city to at least begin desegregating its public facilities, though demonstrations continue in Nashville until passage of the Civil Rights Act of finally makes overt, legally-sanctioned segregation illegal. The violent hecklers are not arrested, instead 81 nonviolent protesters are hauled off to jail. The managers close the counters rather than serve Blacks. In Chicago, I had had access, at least, to public accommodations, lunch counters and what have you. They were taking place a couple of blocks off campus. The students were dressed like they were on the way to church or going to a big social affair. It was really funny, and we were sitting there trying not to laugh, because we thought that laughing would be insulting and we didn't want to create that kind of atmosphere. By July, most of the Charlotte lunch counters and restaurants accept integration and agree to serve Blacks. For a time, this mass arrest temporarily slows the sit-in campaign. So my response was, "Who's trying to change these things? At the same time we were scared to death. A group of young white men came in and they started pulling and beating primarily the young women. I have a lot of respect for the way he responded. They put lighted cigarettes down their backs, in their hair, and they were really beating people. The first sit-in we had was really funny, because the waitresses were nervous. Jailing the students fails to break the movement, the united students and community hang tough. They were waiting and they fell right in behind. That was the turning point.
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