Savannah Sit-In Newspaper Article | Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum

Savannah Sit-In Newspaper Article

Savannah Sit-In Newspaper Article

Take a trip into archives of the Museum and read a newspaper article from Savannah Morning News, written on March 17, 1960. It records the first sit-in or ('sitdown') protest in Savannah.

"Three Negro Students Arrested for Sitdown" (By Harry Murphy Savannah Morning News issue Thursday, March 17, 1960)

Three Negro students were arrested Friday after they asked to be served in a white restaurant at Levy's Department Store.

Store personnel refused to serve the trio, and asked them to leave. The students would not. They previously had sought service at lunch counters in seven other stores.

The trio was charged with trespassing under a just-passed state law. The law says any-one will be guilty of a misdemeanor who refuses to leave the premises when requested to do so by the owner or an employee.

The three were arrested in Levy's shortly after 4 p.m. They were Ernest Robinson, 20, of 238 Sugden St., a social science major at Savannah State College; Joan Tyson, 17, of 20 E. Dundee St., a senior at Alfred E. Beach High School; and Carolyn Quilloin, 17, of 608 W. 59th St., also a Beach High School senior.

Mayor W. Lee Mingledorff Jr. said: "I regret that such an incident had to take place in Savannah where our race relations had been so excellent. I hope that such incidents can be avoided in the future."

County Commission Chairman H. Lee Fulton Jr. said the sitdowns are a "bad situation." He said the sitdowns should be broken up. "State law gives a store owner the right to say who he will and who he will not serve," he added.

Dr. William K. Payne, president of Savannah State College, had no comment.

Efforts to reach Beach High School Principal Otha L. Douglas were unsuccessful.

Discussion Questions

Answer the following questions:

  1. What reason does the newspaper article give for the students being arrested? Do you think that is fair?

  2. The article interviews Mayor Mingledorff Jr. to comment on the arrests. What would you say if you were mayor?

  3. County Commission Chairman H. Lee Fulton Jr. said the sit-ins were a "bad situation." Do you agree or disagree with him? Why?

  4. View our interactive exhibit of the Levy's sit-in to put yourself in the shoes of these three brave students.