Skip to content Skip to navigation

World House Podcast: Episode 8 - 1960, The Sit-Ins begin...

Jun 28 2020

This episode follows Kings' move to Atlanta and Martin's involvement in students' sit-in campaign. In early 1960 the King family left Montgomery, Alabama, and relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where King continued his work at the SCLC. In Atlanta, King also took on the position of the assistant pastor, next to his father, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church

At the same time, the movement against racial injustice was gaining force, with young people organizing and challenging the status quo of segregation. In early 1960, a handful of black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat at the lunch counter reserved for white customers, setting a precedent for what became known as the sit-ins campaign. In April 1960, Ella Baker and other activists played a crucial role in forming The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization founded by young people dedicated to challenging racism and inequality through protests and nonviolent direct actions. 

Later that year, in October 1960, King decided to join student activists during one of the sit-ins at Rich's department store. As expected, local police arrested King together with nearly 300 students. The students were later released, but Martin was detained and indicted for violating probation on an earlier traffic offense. After being sentenced to four months of hard labor at Georgia State Prison at Reidsville, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy played a crucial role in King's prompt release. This involvement contributed to Kennedy's narrow victory over Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election. Many years later, Coretta Scott King recalled these events in an interview for the "Eyes on the Prize" documentary. Listen to Coretta as she speaks about her encounter with senator Kennedy and the long term implications of his intervention.

For more information on 1960 Atlanta und the Sit-in movement, go to: Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides, Freedom on the Menu-Greensboro Sit-Ins, The Sit-in Movement.

Posted in: 
Clayborne Carson, Liberation Curriculum