Rants ‘n Raves by a Nuyorican Who Calls Herself Bennie

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We Were Not Served…

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We were not served! An illusive Memory of the day we staged a sit-in in Binghamton’s Downtown lunch counter at Woolworths- 1970

I was nineteen and fearless. One of our friends was refused service at the lunch counter in Woolworth in downtown Binghamton. At first we were in shock. How could something like this happen three hours from New York City? But it did, and we were angry, dissappointed, and needed to do something. But what? This is not the first time that African Americans were refused or ignored service at one of Americas’s largest dime store conglomerate. In 1960 four black college freshmen demanded service at “whites only” lunch counter at an F.W. Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C. The response then was infectious and many joined in the protest. Ten years later it was still happening even though there were no signs to warn people of color were not welcomed. Perhaps it was the actions by these four young students which forced us to take a stand. There were about six of us and we headed down to Woolworths where we sat and asked for service. They ignored our request and so we sat. We refused to leave. We were taunted and called names but we continued our silent protest. We were peaceful, but about an hour later we were taken to the police station. For the first time in my life I was afraid and yet proud of making my voice heard. We protested peacefully and so we were released, but of course the authorities admonished us to behave in the future. After that any time we went to the lunch counter we were served, even with a hypocritical smile on their faces. Around the same time Civil Rights leader, Julian Bond, came to a rally in Downtown Binghamton, where our common hopes and dreams for equality for all were once again voiced.

The photo is not mine. I googled photos and I found this one where the protesters were being taunted by the local angry whites. If you notice, there are also white protesters showing their support.

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Written by Benilda Pacheco Beretta

February 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. I was there, and I, too, remember. . .

    carlastockton

    February 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    • I never forgot that experience and how it made me feel…sometimes we still experience similar feelings but not in an overt way.

      Benilda Pacheco Beretta

      February 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm


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