The Civil Rights Movement is one of the most well known social movements in American History. But have you ever stopped to think of what really makes up a movement? Social movements are demonstrations used to express dissatisfaction with a certain policy or practice. Movements are all made possible by devoted leaders, bold, ordinary citizens, community support, and political institutions. Although the aforementioned components make social movements possible, the main driving force for a successful movement- such as the Civil Rights Movement- is having bold individuals willing to take risks for the cause.
People willing to risk their lives for a cause are the main factor that can push a movement to success. An example of a group of ordinary people that had a profound impact on the Civil Rights Movement is the Greensboro Four. The Greensboro Four were students at North Carolina A&T that facilitated sit-ins at the Woolworth’s store “whites only” lunch counter. They were refused service and were asked to leave, but instead of fighting back or leaving, they merely sat at the lunch counter and waited to be served. They knew that they would not be served, but for the sake of making their point known they remained seated until the store closed.
As a result of their protest, many other protesters followed in their footsteps in the following days. Each day, the Woolworth’s store was occupied by more and more African-American protesters. Sales at the store dropped drastically, and in the end the segregation policy at the store was abandoned. Protests in neighboring towns arose as the news of the Greensboro Four spread.
The Greensboro Four helped bring integration to North Carolina quickly. They acted as models, and their success inspired other people to stand up for their rights. Without visionaries such as the Greensboro Four, people would not have taken the risk to protest against segregation. There would have been nobody to inspire ordinary people, and convince them that they could cause a change and get rid of segregation.
The Greensboro Four, and other individuals that stood out like them, are a prime example of why the Civil Rights Movement was successful. The brave individuals took a risk to support their cause, despite the hardships they faced in the process. Their protests not only inspired other people to start their own protests, but they gave hope to people that were aspiring to eliminate segregation.
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