ASU recognizes 60th anniversary of sit-in protest

ASU recognizes 60th anniversary of sit-in protest

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s the last week of Black History Month, and Alabama State University is recognizing some of histories bravest heroes. Three survivors of the 1960 ASU sit-in protest, St. John Dixon, James McFadden, and Joseph Peterson, spoke with students on campus Monday about the injustice, evil, and violence they endured.

It’s been 60 years since students at ASU made history for asking to be served at an “all-white” lunch counter at the Montgomery County Court House. Alabama’s first segregated lunch counter sit-in sent shock waves around the world.

"I did it because I felt it was an injustice being done by them telling us that we shouldn't do this, when we were being taught in school that we had a right to actually do this," said Dixon.

In 1960 the governor at the time, John Patterson, threatened to stop public funding to the school if they did not expel the students who were protesting for their rights. One of the nine students expelled is St. John Dixon, who took the injustice to the federal court, and won on appeal, giving college students now the right to speak out, without fear of expulsion.

“We were expelled in 1960, 50 years later they called us back to the university and gave us our degree,” said Dixon.

Students who attended the panel discussion on campus appreciated the sacrifices the men made.

“They are someone that I look up to,” said ASU student Kennedy Smith. “And if possible, we need a statue of them on the ASU campus, to commemorate what they did, because they paved the way for us.”

The men traveled from all across the U.S. to speak with students, in hopes that they will continue to pursue justice.

“Maybe the young people will get a vision, that we got to do something about the wrongdoings of people in this country,” said Dixon.

A sit-in at a lunch counter re-energized the struggle for civil rights, and so many years later continues to send the same message.

“I remember something that Michelle Obama said: ‘When they go low you go high,’ and we sit so they can stand,” Dixon said.

St. John Dixon, James McFadden, and Joseph Peterson will be on the ASU campus the next two days hosting events to honor their brave sacrifices for freedom.

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