published Monday, June 6th, 2011

1960s sit-ins focus of Cleveland exhibit


June 14: A two-hour PBS documentary on the Freedom Riders followed by a discussion led by Dr. Bryan Reed of Cleveland State Community College.

• When: 6:30 p.m.

• How much: Free

June 21: A program of oral history by those who integrated Cleveland’s restaurants and public places in the early 1960s. All are invited to share stories.

• When: 6:30 p.m.

• How much: Free

Note: The museum will open at 6 p.m. for those wishing to see the exhibit first for the regular admission price.


• What: We Shall Not be Moved: 51st Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins” traveling exhibit

• When: June 9-July 20

• Where: Museum Center at Five Points

• Hours/Admission: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, free under 5 years. Admission is free on the first Saturday of the month.

Information: 423-339-5745,

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A traveling exhibition focused on Tennessee’s civil rights movement a half century ago is coming to the Museum Center at Five Points this week.

Called “We Shall Not be Moved: 51st Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins,” the exhibit from the Tennessee State Museum will be on display Thursday through July 20. Cleveland is the third stop on its summer tour.

Among the iconic images are Howard High School students sitting but not being served at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Chattanooga.

Avery Johnson, Cleveland’s vice mayor and a veteran City Council member, remembers those times.

The same thing happened at the Woolworth’s here, he said. After Cleveland’s black community boycotted the store, Woolworth’s integrated its local lunch counter. The Spot, a small restaurant still in business, designated two stools near the front door for blacks to wait on to-go orders or to eat, Johnson said.

Much of Cleveland’s civil rights era memorabilia has been uncollected until now. Johnson and several other local residents have been collecting stories for publication.

“We’ve got a lot of information, and it’s going great,” Johnson said.

Much of the collection deals with College Hill School, which dates to Nov. 13, 1866. For a century, it was the area’s black school.

“We hope to display some of the memorabilia at College Hill Recreation Center,” said Johnson, himself a College Hill School alumnus.

The former Northeast Recreation Center encompasses the former school’s gym and part of a building. Last year, the city changed the center’s name back to College Hill to represent its history, Johnson said.

Sit-ins were among many nonviolent acts and economic boycotts aimed at ending segregation in the 1960s, according to the Tennessee State Museum.

Museum Center Director Lisa Simpson Lutts said visitors will see photos of the sit-ins in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis; items from some of the lunchrooms; and an eight-minute film that includes television news footage from Nashville during the 1960s.

Coinciding with the exhibit, the Museum Center will host community education co-sponsored by the NAACP Bradley County chapter and the 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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