It was 60 years ago, in the winter of 1960, that four young African American men took seats at the segregated lunch counter in Greensboro’s F. W. Woolworth store. The example of courage that they set—returning day after day to the lunch counter, as more and more people joined to support them—galvanized the nationwide sit-in movement, which became one of the most visible and effective traditions of resistance during the Civil Rights Movement.
This summer, North Carolinians are again demonstrating—demanding justice, and condemning the institutionalized racism that fosters such acts of brutality as the murder of George Perry Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, and the murders of so many other African Americans and people of color by officers whose sworn duty is to protect us all. While we have all witnessed, with horror, the scene of George Floyd’s death, let us also reflect on the importance of his life, which began here in North Carolina. Let us also remember the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Stephon Clark, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and the literally countless other African Americans—both those whose names have become familiar, and those we’ll never hear about—who have died as a result of police brutality, white supremacist terrorism, and all forms of systemic inequality.
The North Carolina Folklife Institute unequivocally supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We join the Floyd family, and their friends and neighbors in Hoke County and Fayetteville, in mourning a native son of North Carolina, and we stand with demonstrators around the world demanding justice for George Floyd and all other victims of racist violence. Their lives mattered. Black lives matter.
Sarah Bryan, Executive Director, North Carolina Folklife Institute
The North Carolina Folklife Institute Board of Directors:
André Nabors, Chairman
Margaret Conrad, Advisor