Throwback Thursday: Tallahassee sit-ins to end racial segregation reflect ugly period in Florida history

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Fifty-four years ago today, on Feb. 13, 1960, the first sit-in protests were held in Florida as part of a nationwide, nonviolent campaign to end racial segregation.

Two weeks prior, on Feb. 1, four North Carolina A&T students held a sit-in at a Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro. In response, Florida’s protests were initiated simultaneously to those in Nashville and elsewhere.

The Tallahassee protests were led by FAMU students, local high school students, and other community members.  In the first sit-in, eight FAMU and high school students sat-in at the local Woolworth counter for more than two hours. No one was arrested.

Another group of 11 students returned to the Tallahassee Woolworth a week later. This time, Tallahassee’s mayor asked them to leave. The group refused and were arrested, charged with “disturbing the peace by riotous conduct” and “unlawful assembly”, and all were found guilty.

FAMU students joined with white students from FSU to sit-in again on March 5 and 12, and 240 students of both races were arrested.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.