Alabama marks 60th anniversary of Montgomery courthouse sit-in

Published 10:56 am Monday, February 24, 2020

A three-day event beginning Monday will mark the 60th anniversary of the first Alabama sit-in against racial segregation.

Five of the surviving demonstrators will be on hand Monday for a remembrance at Alabama State University in Montgomery. Civil rights lawyer Fred Gray of Tuskegee also will participate, according to an announcement from the school.

Alabama State, a center of activity during the civil rights era, also will host events through Wednesday, including a panel discussion of elected officials and a presentation of scholarly papers about the sit-in and its legacy.

A student sit-in began on Feb. 25, 1960 at the Montgomery County Courthouse snack bar, where 35 black women and men asked to be served in defiance of the city’s segregation law. They were inspired by the Greensboro four, who started the sit-ins campaign at a lunch counter in North Carolina that Feb. 1.

Then-Gov. John Patterson, a segregationist, made Alabama State expel any students who participated by threatening its state funding. Nine students identified as leaders were kicked out of school.

The state apologized and expunged expulsions from the academic records of the student participants in 2018.