International Civil Rights Center and Museum

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International Civil Rights Center and Museum
The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is located in Greensboro, North Carolina. The museum building is the former location of the Woolworth's in which the Greensboro sit-ins took place, beginning February 1, 1960. The museum's aim is to memorialize the actions of four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), those who joined them in the daily Woolworth's sit-ins, and others around the country who took part in sit-ins and the civil rights movement. The museum opened February 1, 2010, on the 50th anniversary of the original sit-in, with a ribbon cutting and opening ceremonies.

History of Organization
In 1993, the Woolworth's store that had existed since 1939 closed, with the company announcing plans to tear down the building. Greensboro radio station 102 JAMZ, (WJMH), began a petition drive to save the location, with morning personality Dr. Michael Lynn broadcasting in front of the closed store day and night in an effort to save the historic building. 18,000 signatures were gathered on a petition, including that of Jesse Jackson, Jr., who visited the location, endorsed the effort, and joined the live broadcast. After three days, F.W. Woolworth company announced an agreement to maintain the location while financing could be arranged to buy the store. County Commissioner Melvin "Skip" Alston and City Councilman Earl Jones proposed buying the site and turning it into a museum. The two founded Sit-in Movement, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to realizing this dream. The group succeeded in purchasing the property and renovating it. In 2001, Sit-in Movement Inc. and NC A&T announced a partnership in an attempt to facilitate the museum's becoming a reality.

Financial difficulties
Despite millions of dollars in donations including more than $1 million from the State of North Carolina, a contribution from the Bryan Foundation, more than $200,000 each from the City of Greensboro and Guilford County, $148,152 from the U.S. Department of Interior through the National Park Service Agency's Save America's Treasures program in 2005 and others, the museum project suffered financial difficulties for a number of years. In Fall 2007, Sit-in Movement, Inc. requested an additional $1.5 million from the City of Greensboro, a request that was rejected. Greensboro residents twice voted down bond referenda to provide money for the project. Questions over transparency in the handling of public and private contributions were widely viewed as relevant to the electoral defeats. As the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins grew closer, efforts increased to complete the project. Over 9 million dollars in donations and grants were raised. In addition, the museum qualified for historic preservation tax credits, which were sold for 14 million dollars. Work on the project proceeded, and was completed in time for the 50th anniversary opening.

Architect Charles Hartmann designed the building in an art deco style. Completed in 1929, the building in the 100 South block of Elm Street was then known as the Whelan Building because Whelan Drug Co. rented most of the space. Woolworth moved into the site in 1939. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum includes 30,000 square feet (2,800 m 2) of exhibit space on two floors. Office space fills the third floor. The structure serves as a contributing building to the Downtown Greensboro Historic District.

Building Activity

  • Brent Watkins
    Brent Watkins commented
    the address on this is incorect.
    about 6 years ago via Mobile