WASHINGTON - Congressman John Lewis, 5th District Georgia, has introduced House Resolution 1566 recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). It was the work of the young people involved in SNCC who forced businesses in the south to integrate their lunch counters and public accommodations.
"All of the young people who were members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee were people of courage and conviction," said Congressman Lewis. We were well trained, well-dressed, and well-behaved young black men and women, something that no one at that time had seen before," stated the Congressman.
In early February of 1960, four students, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair, Franklin McCain, and David Richmond, all students of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina walked into a Woolworth's Department Store to purchase school supplies. They then sat down at the store's lunch counter for coffee. They were refused service but stayed seated there until the store closed. These same students recruited students from other schools and after a few days of sit-ins, the lunch counter demonstrators filled nearly all 66 spaces at the Greensboro Woolworth's lunch counter. By the end of that month, there were non-violent sit-ins at more than 30 communities in seven states.
"SNCC did the hard nitty-gritty work of organizing and mobilizing people in the heart of the deep South to attempt to register blacks to vote," remarked Congressman Lewis. "From the sit-ins to the Freedom Rides, from Freedom Summer voter registration drives to the March on Washington, SNCC was there," the Congressman added.
By 1963, Congressman Lewis had been arrested 24 times. That was the year he also became the Chairman of SNCC.