Woolworth Nashville sit-ins in the 1960's were created as a peaceful way to end racial segregation by staging sit-ins in food establishments which led to successfully desegregated downtown lunch counters. Now, about 50 years later, the historic Woolworth building will be reopened as a restaurant that celebrates history, culture, and music.
Expected to open late this year, the restaurant will be made to look like the original, featuring soul music from its heyday, live performances, spoken word poetry, and dancing. Heading the project is restaurant entrepreneur, Tom Morales, who told reporters that saving the building was due to love and responsibility to uphold history.
"We should save this history," Morales announced on Wednesday. "We should identify and embrace it and make sure that it stays. Because even as the high-rises go up, which are a part of growth and progress, the little building next to it represents a movement that, really, its roots were here in Nashville."
He also shared a memory of having his milkshake from Woolworth. All in all, Morales sees to the continuation of historical sites even the famed Acme Farm Supply building downtown which was reopened as Acme Feed & Seed - an eatery where musicians can perform on live.
The Story of Woolworth
The Woolworth Nashville sit-in history started by a group of students led by Diane Nash and John Lewis to desegregate the blacks and the whites in lunch counters. It became popular in the area, and more people joined in.
Ultimately, tension grew among white onlookers and attacked sit-in participants which resulted in 80 students facing jail time and expulsions too. Other than staging sit-ins, singing and poetry were one way to protest against racism in Nashville.
Lawyer Z. Alexander Looby represented the jailed students which resulted in the bombing of his home. The next day, about 4,000 people marched to Mayor Ben West and demanded justice. By May 10, many food establishments desegregated lunch counters.