On February 1, 1960, four African American students – Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain – from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a historically black college/university, sat at a segregated lunch counter in the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth's store. This lunch counter only had chairs/stools for whites, while blacks had to stand and eat. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter. The four students were aware that Woolworth’s would not serve blacks at their lunch counter but they sat down anyway, engaging themselves in a plan they had been discussing for a month prior to the sit-in.
When notified by one of the waitresses of the events that were occurring in his store that February afternoon, the store’s manager C.L. Harris first told his staff to leave the students alone, hoping they would eventually leave. However, Harris grew nervous that violence would soon ensue so he went to the police. Although he did not have the men arrested, assuming their demonstration would soon end, he did have several police officers stationed in the store.