1944 April 22

Early Sit-in Challenges Segregation in Washington, D.C.


The sit-in on this day, challenging racial discrimination at Thompson’s Restaurant in Washington, D.C., was one of several sit-ins during the mid-1940s and the late 1950s, which have been overshadowed by the famous sit-ins that began February 1, 1960. The sit-in was led by African-American students at Howard University, who had staged an earlier one the year before, on April 17, 1943.

The sit-ins were eventually quashed by Southerners in Congress who had power of the budget for Washington, D.C. and Howard University.

One participant in this sit-in was Pauli Murray, who went on to a distinguished career as a lawyer, feminist, poet, and civil libertarian (October 11, 1963; July 1, 1985).

See the other pre-1960 sit-ins on May 8, 1943; August 11, 1958; August 19, 1958. Thompson’s Restaurant was finally desegregated on June 8, 1953, in a case that reached the Supreme Court.

Take the civil rights history tour of Washington, D.C.http://washington.org/dc-itinerary/dc-itinerary-major-civil-rights-sites-1-day

Learn more about Pauli Murray: Pauli Murray, Proud Shoes (1956)

Read: Patricia Bell-Scott, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Racial Justice (2016)

And more at the Pauli Murray Project: http://paulimurrayproject.org/

Learn more about the 1960s sit-ins: Iwan W. Morgan and Philip Davies, From Sit-ins to SNCC: The Student Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s (2012)

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