Civil-rights 'lunch counter' film to be screened

Greensboro sit-in of 1960 continues to inspire students

An act of student disobedience that sparked the American civil-rights movement continues to inspire students today -- including those at Eastside College Preparatory school in East Palo Alto.

The student council will be screening a film about students who led the so-dubbed "Greensboro sit-in" this Friday (Feb. 22) at 5:30 p.m. The free screening is open to the public.

On Feb. 1, 1960, four black college students sat in whites-only stools at the lunch counter at F.W. Woolworth's store in Greensboro, N.C., and refused to leave without service.

The students returned the next day with others, and about 1,000 students gathered by the fourth day, drawing national attention and encouraging copycat protests throughout the South.

The film will illustrate more history than just the civil-rights era -- today's generation may have never seen a "lunch counter" and F.W. Woolworth's no longer exists. An 8-foot section of the original lunch counter is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The 2005 film "February One" tells the story of the four initial protestors. Students at Eastside Prep hope the film will show how seemingly small actions can have a huge impact, according to junior Jabari Perry, who helped select the film.

"We thought it could show the youth in America they can make a difference," he said.

Previous protesting at the local five-and-dime's lunch counter could find a modern equivalent in taking political action to stop global warming, he said.

The film will be shown at the school's theater from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.. Afterwards, attendees will eat a $3 dinner and break into informal discussion groups moderated by parents and students.

The screening is part of the school's five-year tradition of hosting a black-history month event, according to American literature teacher Stacy Ishigaki.

It was organized with help from Michael Levin of the community-information Web site, she said.

Levin put students in touch with California Newsreel, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that links film and social change, she said.

Students were inspired by the film's portrayal of brave, young college students, she said.

"The students in the film are four college freshman just a little older than them. So they were amazed that [students could have started the civil rights movement when they were just 19," she said.

Eastside College Preparatory School, at 1041 Myrtle Ave., is a private, nonprofit school dedicated to sending under-represented students to four-year colleges. Its students are chosen to reflect East Palo Alto's population, and are 60 percent Hispanic, 30 percent black, and 10 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, Ishigaki said.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Levin
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 19, 2008 at 6:20 pm

The East Palo Alto Black History Film Festival was launched by resident Daniel Fountenberry in 2003 and ran the Festival for its first three years The Festival has taken place in the Eastside College Preparatory School theatre since it's second year,

Daniel developed the relationship with California Newsreel, which is widely considered to have the best collection of films on the African American experience, as well as the best collection of African Cinema. Newsreel has generously made films available to the Festival.

After Daniel moved to the East Coast, did an interim version for one year. This year students from Eastside have taken on the organizing and are doing a great job.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 20, 2008 at 5:25 am

The lunchcounter sit-in was a landmark in the struggle to eliminate legal segregation, but it was not the initial act. See the wikipedia entry for Showboat to see Edna Ferber's literary assault on segregation laws and practices, in its way as contributory to public attitude as Uncle Tom's Cabin was to the ending of slavery.

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