Meeting World Heritage site: Greensboro Woolworth BuildingBy Ivan Saul Cutler / June 29, 2023
The historic F.W. Woolworth building in Downtown Greensboro, where the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins captivated the nation and launched an intense movement, continues its methodical progress for global recognition as a critical component of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement sites constituting a future collective World Heritage site, providing a series of specific criteria are validated for the prestigious distinction.
Now the home of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum hosted a community briefing for members of the Georgia State University World Heritage Initiative to present the required steps for the Woolworth Building to join a dozen other American civil rights sites to achieve the recognition. The next step is designating the building a National Historic Landmark, a key component for the global recognition.
John Swaine, ICRCM chief executive officer, said the process toward World Heritage recognition is entering its seventh year. He characterized the process as detailed, always with the hopes of achieving the status that could be several years away.
At the community meeting, Glenn T. Eskew, GSU professor and director of the institution’s World Heritage Initiative, reported a comprehensive dossier will be filed July 1 with the National Park Service Office of International Affairs for scrupulous consideration as a National Historic Landmark, a process that will be formally addressed next spring. He and colleague Anne H. Farrisee, the initiative’s project manager, provided background on the arduous preparation of what is known as a serial nomination for the civil rights landmarks for global recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNCESCO).
“The GSU World Heritage Team develops the Serial Nomination dossier which includes a completed and extensive World Heritage nomination form as well as numerous supporting documents,” he to informed about two dozen community, academic and public officials in the ICRCM auditorium. “Consulting with Greensboro Woolworth building’s owners and stakeholders, our team will help craft management plans and buffer zones for each of the historic sites.”
The GSU team will also help create a coordinated management plan for the overall Serial Nomination, he explained, saying a full comparative analysis of similar sites in the United States and around the world is also included to demonstrate the global significance of the Serial Nomination.
The Woolworth Building and the Memphis’s Lorraine Motel where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther was assassinated in 1968 are pursuing the NHL status, which includes seminal civil rights movement historic sites: Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala;, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta; Moton High School, Farmville, Va., Sumner Element, Topeka, Kan. (the schools serving as plaintiffs in the historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision on desegregating public schools), Central High School (Little Rock 9 integrate school), Little Rock, Ark., Anniston Greyhound Bus Station, Anniston, Ala., Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (four girls die in bombing), Birmingham, Ala.; Edmund Pettus Bridge (Bloody Sunday March), Selma, Ala.; home of Civil Rights Leader Medgar and Myrlie Evers where he was murdered, Jackson, Miss.