The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 553
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Direct Action at the University of Texas
Huston-Tillotson College, and the Episcopal and Presbyterian seminar-
ies picketed Congress Avenue with signs reading "I don't want it 'to go,'
I want to sit down," "Why pay for racism?" and "Sit-Ins? It's up to you!"
The picketing lasted for nine hours, with groups of approximately thirty
students walking in one-hour shifts. Some passersby heckled the pick-
eters while merchants made their intention to refuse service clear. One
restaurant owner stated, "If I can't stop them at the door and they sit
down, I'm not going to serve them." Representatives of H. L. Green,
Kress, and Woolworth announced that they would "follow community
practices" in deciding whom to serve. The Austin Commission on Hu-
man Relations, however, recognized "the democratic and moral rights of
Negroes to equality of service at lunch counters of stores serving the
On April 29, seventy-five to one hundred activists launched sit-ins
challenging lunch counters at seven locations on or near Congress Av-
enue. Before the sit-ins began, the participants received written instruc-
tions telling them to be courteous, not to laugh out loud, and not to
strike back if physically attacked. Merchants responded to the sit-ins by
closing counters. H. L. Green and the Continental bus station removed
stools, while the Greyhound bus station directed protesters to a separate
dining room for African Americans. A few black diners did eat at segre-
gated counters as individuals or in small groups. At Woolworth the first
few black students to arrive received service, but after more students ap-
peared, the manager stated he could not "keep it [the counter] open in
the face of a demonstration." Although the sit-ins did not desegregate
the targeted counters, Bray and Jordan pharmacies subsequently an-
nounced their intention to serve all customers.5
Students also looked to national figures in their struggle for desegre-
gation. The interracial coalition of student groups sent U.S. Sen. Lyn-
don Baines Johnson a letter requesting the senator to use his Austin
television station, his newsletter, and his influence in the community to
"bring into practice the full human rights of all the citizens of Texas."
The University of Texas Young Democrats also sent a letter urging John-
son to accept his responsibility.6
Austin American, Mar. 12 (Ist quotation), April 21, 1960 (2nd-4th quotations); Dallas Morn-
ing News, Apr. 28, 1960. Attempts to desegregate Austin eating places began before 1960. In
1952 Sam Gibbs, a UT graduate assemblyman, wrote fifty-three restaurants asking them to drop
racial bars. Most owners refused, while others announced a willingness to do so if others desegre-
gated first. UT Chancellor's Office Records, System-Wide, Central Administration Policy and
Procedure Files, 1962-64, Desegregation, CAH.
5 Austin American, Apr. 30, 1960 (quotation). Four UT students attended the National Stu-
dent Conference on Sit-Ins in April 1960. Daily Texan (Austin), Apr. 29, 1960.
G Daily Texan (Austin), Apr. 27 (quotation), 29, 1960.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/623/: accessed August 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.