Juneteenth, Woolworth's, and the Struggle for Social Justice
June 19, 2021, marks the first official Juneteenth federal holiday in the United States—156 years after General Order No. 3 officially emancipated enslaved African American people in Texas and, in turn, across the country. In celebration, we would like to share a story from the long and ongoing struggle for justice in the U.S. and invite you to learn more about a historical landmark in San Antonio, Texas, and a 2020 World Monuments Watch site: the Woolworth Building.
On March 16, 1960, the San Antonio Woolworth Building united with six other local establishments in peacefully desegregating their lunch counters. This movement sought to end racial segregation at public eating places across the South. The city’s interracial cooperation among church leaders, store managers, and members of the NAACP was credited with the achievement. Baseball legend Jackie Robinson called it “a story that should be told around the world.”
As we celebrate Juneteenth and its inclusion on the list of official U.S. federal holidays, we invite you to learn more about the San Antonio Woolworth Building and the lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 with two videos from the Conservation Society of San Antonio's new series, Woolworth and Civil Rights: A First in the South.
The Texas Sit-Ins, 1960
Beginning in February 1960, young African Americans helped re-energize the national civil rights movement. Through peaceful sit-ins, they protested racial discrimination at public lunch counters across the South. Students in Texas quickly took up the cause and led freedom struggles that played out in their state’s big cities and college towns.
San Antonio, 1960: A Quiet Revolution
Mary Lillian Andrews led the local NAACP Youth Council at the age of seventeen. Her request that store managers integrate their lunch counters produced the first peaceful, voluntary integration of the 1960 sit-in movement. San Antonio, Texas, became a brief beacon of hope to a nation torn apart by racial strife.