Nashville, Spring 1960

By Betsy Thorpe
Walgreens Drugstore
Nashville Tennessee
March, 1960
Banner Photo, Courtesy Nashville Public Library Special Collections

Students participating in Nashville’s sit-ins were required to follow ten rules of conduct.
10 Rules of Conduct
Do Not:

Strike back nor curse if abused laugh out or
Hold conversations with a floor walker
Leave your seat until your leader has given you permission to do so
Block entrances to stores outside nor the aisles inside

Do:

Show yourself friendly and courteous at all times
Sit straight: always face the counter
Report all serious incidents to your leader
Refer information seekers to your leader in a polite manner
Remember the teachings of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King
Love and non-violence is the way

Sit-ins targeting Nashville’s downtown department stores began in February, 1960. Participating in the sit-ins were students who had received instruction in Ghandi’s techniques of non-violent civil disobedience, from Vanderbilt Divinity School student James Lawson. In the beginning the sit-ins were peaceful and orderly, but by the end of March they had become increasingly violent and on March 27th, close to one hundred student protesters were arrested. In the following days racial tensions escalated throughout the city and on April 19th a cataclysmic event occurred forcing the students and the city’s officials to come together in a meeting.

For the next few weeks Nashville Past And Present will present articles relating some of the important historic events that occurred in Nashville during the tumultuous spring of 1960.

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