Eye's on the Prize

Topics: African American, Sit-in, Black people Pages: 4 (1467 words) Published: December 12, 2005
The focus of the video documentary "Ain't Scared of your Jails" is on the courage displayed by thousands of African-American people who joined the ranks of the civil rights movement and gave it new direction. In 1960, lunch counter sit-ins spread across the south. In 1961, Freedom Rides were running throughout the southern states. These rides consisted of African Americans switching places with white Americans on public transportation buses. The whites sat in the back and black people sat in the front of the public buses. Many freedom riders faced violence and defied death threats as they strived to stop segregation by participating in these rides. In interstate bus travel under the Mason-Dixon Line, the growing movement toward racial equality influenced the 1960 presidential campaign. Federal rights verses state rights became an issue.

One of the first documented incidents of the sit-ins for the civil rights movement was on February 1, 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee. Four college African-Americans sat at a lunch counter and refused to leave. During this time, blacks were not allowed to sit at certain lunch counters that were reserved for white people. These black students sat at a white lunch counter and refused to leave. This sit-in was a direct challenge to southern tradition. Trained in non-violence, the students refused to fight back and later were arrested by Nashville police. The students were drawn to activist Jim Lossen and his workshops of non-violence. The non-violent workshops were training on how to practice non-violent protests. John Lewis, Angela Butler, and Diane Nash led students to the first lunch counter sit-in. Diane Nash said, "We were scared to death because we didn't know what was going to happen." For two weeks there were no incidences with violence. This all changed on February 27, 1960, when white people started to beat the students. Nashville police did nothing to protect the black students. The students remained true to their...
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