1960 Cal students picket Woolworth in Berkeley to support Southern students' lunch counter sit-ins

Early March of 1960 saw Cal students organize a boycott and picket of the Berkeley Woolworth department store, under the sponsorship of the Students of Cal for Racial Equality.  SLATE, the left-wing UC Berkeley group that called itself a political party and ran candidates for student office, led the protest.  Kress and Woolworth stores in San Francisco were also picketed, in answer to a call put out by the Bay Area chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

 

The protests  were designed to draw public support for the Woolworth boycott and lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina.  By the end of March, 1960, the sit-ins and support boycotts had spread to 55 cities in 13 states.  By the end of the summer most dining facilities in the south were legally declared desegregated, although compliance was not always immediate.

The spark generated by the Greensboro sit-ins led to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in April, 1960.  SNCC and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)  were responsible for many of the protests against Jim Crow laws and southern segregationist policies, creating a mass movement that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

The  Spring and Summer of 1960 saw an explosion of political activity among Bay Area college students:  the picketing and boycott of Kress and Woolworth, the protests at the 1960 Democratic Convention, the Caryl Chessman rally, march and vigil and the SLATE-led protests against compulsory ROTC.  Many of us at UC Berkeley were swept up by the novel excitement and sense of purpose that these well-publicized protests were generating.

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March, 1960--Students of Cal for Racial Equality pickets Woolworth on Berkeley's Shattuck Avenue in support of southern sit-ins at segregated lunch counters

Picketers in front of Woolworth

This is what shoppers had to ignore to shop at Woolworth.

This is my mom, Billie Wachter.  She walked a thousand picket lines in over seventy years of progressive polictical activity and lived to age 97.

Help me identify these two UC student leaders

Protesting the jailing of black students who sat-in at Nashville lunch counters.

Gathering signatures on a petition opposing Southern lunch counter segregation.

Protesters marched around downtown Berkeley, too, when they tired of circling in front of Woolworth.

Two leaders of the protest.

Picket duty in the rain.  The home-made signs weren't waterproof.