NAACP Event Commemorates Downtown Sit-Ins

Sit-insThe NAACP Pensacola Branch and the Pensacola Sit-In Commemorative Group will host the unveiling of a historical marker at the corner of Palafox and Garden Streets this Saturday, April

25th at 3:00 pm. The marker will give tribute to Reverend William C. Dobbins and the Youth Group of the NAACP and recognize their efforts to desegregate lunch counters in Pensacola 55 years ago. Kevin Myles, The National Field Director of the NAACP Eastern Division will be the guest speaker and twenty-eight of the participants of the sit-ins will be present.

Sara Jonas, a graduate student at the University of West Flori- da, was working on her Doctorate of Education with a focus on Diversity Studies when she said she began hearing comments about the history of African-Americans in Pensacola being cov- ered up, and swept under the rug.   “I was impressed with the solidarity of the pre-teen and teenage students and how young they were!”  she stated. “Rev. Dobbins had received training that he passed onto the students for a well-orchestrated protest at the lunch counters.”

The sit-ins at the lunch counters in downtown Pensacola focused on Kresses, Newberry’s, and Woolworth’s department stores. Rev William C. Dobbins, the NAACP Youth Council, and the local ministerial council led the civil rights direct action.  The

youth were burned with cigarettes, hit with raw eggs, and store merchandise was placed in their pockets unawares so that they could be arrested. However, it was the violence perpetrated on the non-violent protesters that fueled the African-American community’s anger and the financial support for the movement.

Della Redmond, a member of the committee, remembers collecting financial support from Benboe Funeral Home to bail youth out of jail during the

sit-ins.  For more details about the event contact Cheryle Allen at (850) 432-9482 or Della Redmond at (850) 497-6462.

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