Kinston Sit-Ins (1961-1963)
The grassroots Civil Rights movement came to fruition during the early 1960s in North Carolina as African American groups (often student groups) demonstrated for equality. This was the case in Kinston, particularly during the 1961-1963 period when the Kinston Chapter of the NAACP Youth Council, under the guidance of Alice Hannibal and Annie Whitehead among others, pressured the local white business community with sit-ins, picketing, and economic boycotts bringing about the desegregation of many downtown Kinston businesses.
Two separate sit-ins occurred at the Standard Drug #2 lunch counter, which because of its preference by local white leaders, was a logical place for protestors to focus their attention. The first sit-in occurred in 1960, shortly after the February 1960 Greensboro Woolworth's sit-in.
Three African American high school students from Kinston used a clever subterfuge to gain service for one of the youths at the lunch counter. While fear of repercussions prevented the young men from publicizing their actions, the incident underscores the growing dissatisfaction among many African Americans with the status quo.
The second, larger sit-in at Standard Drug # 2 was held in 1961, although the day is not known. At this time, the store manager agreed to serve the protestors and the lunch counter was desegregated from that time forward. Boycotts and picketing followed the 1961 sit-in at several of the most important downtown Kinston businesses including the department stores and the theater. These actions brought about meetings between the protesters and downtown businessmen, including Henry Suddreth the owner of Standard Drug #2. The meetings resulted in the desegregation of downtown Kinston businesses.”
Adapted from an essay submitted with historical marker application by Roosevelt Whitehead
“Kinston Stores Discuss Fair Employment”, The Carolina Times, Volume 37 – No. 51, Saturday, December 23, 1961
“Jobs, Voting and Memberships Head NAACP Youth ’62 Plans”, The Carolina Times, Saturday, February 3, 1962
“Alice Hannibal helped pave the way for civil, human rights in Kinston” by Junious Smith
“Triumphs, struggle during Civil Rights movement” by Junious Smith, Kinston.com, October 26, 2014Kinston.com, October 18, 2014
“Kinston Drugstore Added to National Register of Historic Places” by Jared Brumbarugh, Public Radio East, May 8, 2015
“Alice S. Hannibal – Advocate and Mentor” by Bonnie Edwards, Olde Kinston Gazette, originally published February 1998. , Republished by the Neuse News
“Standard Drug No. 2 receives historical recognition” by Junious Smith, The Dispatch.com, October 10, 2014
“National Register of Historic Places Program”, U.S. Park Service