It was 1960. Blacks said enough was enough and that level of frustration led to the first Houston Sit-In 54 years ago.
The Civil Rights Movement was heating up and students from Texas Southern University decided to march over to a grocery store and lunch counter to initiate the sit-in.
All they wanted to do was be treated fairly and equally, but their actions would help define the movement in Houston.
Freedom fighters will remember the 54th year commemoration of the TSU sit-in at the supermarket this week at the sit where history took place – Southmore Post Office at 4110 Almeda Road at 4 p.m.
According to historical accounts, the students stood up to protest the unfair treatment of African-Americans. Tired of Jim Crow Laws that limited freedoms of Blacks, 17 students met at a flag pole and lined up in pairs and marched 45-minutes to then Weingarten’s Supermarket.
Jim Crow was a phrase used to describe a system of Southern laws that denied blacks basic rights. These laws were strongly enforced between 1896 to 1964.
Students marched singing spirituals and others joined the march and crusade for equality. When they arrived, they expected service at the lunch counter only to find out that Whites were not interested in their protests. Sitting there for hours, no service ever was provided to them.
During the protests, they endured harassment and racial slurs in the name of freedom and equality.
A Texas Historic Marker sits near the site of that first sit-in and serves as a daily reminder of what these heroic TSU students did 54 years ago.
Their courage has echoed across decades and has motivated a new generation of freedom fighters to stand up for the Southmore Post Office – at the same historic site where TSU students made their stand.
Community leaders are in the middle of a fight to save the post office. It sits on the same property where the protest took place.
Officials want to close the post office for economic reasons, but freedom fighters say it is vital to the lifeblood of the community and utilized by the poor and elderly residents living in the community surrounding the site. The controversy has drawn numerous protests and even gotten local U.S. representatives of Congress in the fight.
History repeats itself as once again the fight is on to send a message the our rights and voices matter.
Many of the TSU protesters are gone now, but they left a rich legacy and would be proud of those freedom fighters who have stepped up once again to protect the civil rights of those who need it.