On July 26, 1960, a group of black youths sat at the lunch counter in Woolworth’s, a chain department store formerly located along Main Street in Spartanburg, to protest the store’s all-white lunch counter service policy. The sit-in occurred after a vote by Spartanburg City Council the night before that outlawed sit-ins in the Upstate city and one day after the first Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro, N.C.
In an effort to keep that history alive, the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Spartanburg Class of 2015 and the Spartanburg County Historical Association on Tuesday unveiled a commemorative plaque where the five and dime store was once located.
“The sit-in at the Spartanburg Woolworth’s inspired a week of protests throughout the city, which were often met with scorn, intimidation and in some cases violence,” said Caroline Sexton, executive director of the historical association and a graduate of Leadership Spartanburg Class of 2015. “The actions of these courageous young men and women were part of a larger movement throughout America, but they were also part of a momentous movement here in our own community.”
The plaque was donated by Lindsay Webster, a Spartanburg resident and community volunteer, via the historical association and will be permanently mounted outside the former Woolworth’s location, which now houses McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. Webster said she came up with the idea after walking through Charleston and seeing a historical marker memorializing a sit-in.
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Alyssa Mulliger, The (Spartanburg) Herald-Journal