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Watch: How a Lunch Counter Sit-In Became an Iconic Civil Rights Moment

‘Counter Histories: Jackson’ reveals the struggle to desegregate restaurant spaces

Southern Foodways Alliance’s documentary series Counter Histories reveals how sit-ins at restaurants and lunch counters were an influential tool in dismantling segregation in public spaces. In Counter Histories: Jackson, filmmakers speak to Civil Rights veterans Colia Clark, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, and Reverend Ed King, among others, about a now-infamous May 1963 sit-in at Woolworth’s in Jackson, Mississippi.

Many sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement grew violent as law enforcement, business owners, and angry bystanders inflicted violence upon the peaceful protestors — but the brutality of the Jackson event in particular became “the most photographed sit-in in the history of the sit-in movement,” King says today. The national attention helped spread the demonstrators’ cause, gaining momentum for the movement.

Trumpauer Mulholland was one of the college students protesting that day and says now that she was fearful for her life during the incident. But she notes that anyone can and should feel empowered to make a positive change in society. “Students today have to see that they can identify their cause and go change the world,” Trumpauer Mulholland says now. “Us old folks, now, our role is to have their back.”

Counter Histories [SFA]