published Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Museum Center at Five Points hosts traveling exhibit on civil-rights sit-ins


• What: “We Shall Not Be Moved: 51st Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins.”

• When: Opens Thursday, runs through July 20; museum hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays.

• Where: Museum Center at Five Points, 200 E. Inman St., Cleveland, Tenn.

• Admission: $5 adults, $4 seniors, students and groups of 12 or more; free to all first Saturday of each month.

• Phone: 423-339-5745.

• Website:


The museum will host two education programs, co-sponsored by the NAACP of Bradley County and the 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc. The programs are free, but the museum will open at 6 p.m. (with regular admission costs) for anyone who wishes to view the exhibition. Programs start at 6:30 p.m.

• June 14: “Freedom Riders” screening/Q&A. This two-hour PBS documentary is about the six months in 1961 when more than 400 blacks and whites risked their lives by traveling together on buses and trains through the Deep South. After the film, Dr. Bryan Reed of Cleveland State Community College will lead a Q&A session.

• June 21: “We Shall Not be Moved: Cleveland Experiences Integration.” Those who integrated Cleveland’s restaurants and public places in the early 1960s will provide this night of oral history. All are invited to share their stories.

The Museum Center at Five Points in Cleveland, Tenn., will open an exhibit Thursday that looks at the role Tennessee students played in shaping the civil-rights movement in the 1960s. “We Shall Not be Moved: 51st Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins” features photographs, artifacts and an eight-minute film that “puts these important ‘foot soldiers’ in their rightful place in history,” according to a news release from the museum.

The traveling exhibit from the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville will continue through July 20.

During the 1950s and 1960s, blacks began mobilizing in a massive movement against segregation. This included nonviolent, direct-action campaigns, which culminated in sit-in demonstrations, economic boycotts and marches.

Fifty-one years ago, a handful of Nashville college students from Fisk University, Tennessee A&I (later Tennessee State) and American Baptist Theological Seminary, along with religious leaders Kelly Miller Smith and James Lawson, began a sit-in campaign targeting downtown lunch counters. These actions sparked the formation of a mass sit-in movement, which became the model used across Tennessee and the rest of the South.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to view photos of these sit-ins, which took place in such Tennessee communities as Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis; see actual items from some of the lunchrooms; view items from nonviolent demonstrations; and watch an eight-minute film about the sit-ins that includes original news footage from Nashville during the 1960s.

“It was these sit-ins and other nonviolent actions that served as an example and catalyst for the rest of the movement and helped usher in a season of social change that led to the desegregation of the South,” said the news release.

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