Greensboro's African American Community Newspaper since 1967

High Point residents celebrate Black History Month

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Dance students at Penn Griffin School of the Arts perform during a Black History Month program. Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.

Jakki Cross Davis, guest speaker and executive director of D-Up Inc., a High Point community service organization. Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.
Annually, in performing arts and spoken word, the city of High Point recalls the disciplined courage and inspiring actions of 26 high school students who sat en masse on February 11, 1960, integrating the Whites-only lunch counter at the downtown F.W. Woolworth.

This year, Mary Lou Blakeney, one of the student leaders of the 1960s, spoke about the experiences during the civil rights movement where the F.W. Woolworth variety store once stood. She retold how she joined 23 students from segregated William Penn High School and two students from High Point Central. The students pretended to be shopping in the store that late afternoon. They were signaled by each other to swoop in and occupy the dining seats at the store’s all-White lunch counter. Blakeney said she and the students were inspired by the actions of four A&T College freshmen: Ezell Blair (Jibreel Khazan), Franklin McCain, David Richmond and Joseph McNeil. Those four young men initiated the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro on February 1, 1960, which spread across the United States.

In tribute to Black History Month and the actions of the High Point sit- in participants. High school students from Penn-Griffin School for the Arts commemorated the February 11 sit-in a day early with a series of musical, theatrical and dance performances. At the conclusion, the names of the 26 High Point sit-in students were read as yellow roses were placed into a simple vase. Guest speaker and High Point community leader Jakki Cross Davis talked about the importance of possessing courage in leadership and the history of the Black Washington Street neighborhood where Penn-Griffin is located.