A Button Said It All

Through sit-ins and picket lines, CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) had success in integrating northern public facilities in the 1940s. The North, you say? Northern cities, like New York, could be just as segregated as Southern ones.

The button below was given to me when I was a child, picketing Woolworth’s on 14th Street, New York, for integrated lunch counter service. I’ve kept it since the early 60s because it spoke powerfully and directly. Woolworth’s was the poster child of Northern segregation, but it was not the only business to serve “white’s only.” There weren’t any official signs, but the actions spoke loudly. With the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Woolworth’s desegregated in the North. The Woolworth’s boycott was probably a catalyst for many of the civil rights sit-ins of the 1960s.

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