CORE and the Diamond Department Store

Charleston Gazette
March 27, 1960

State College Students Stage Sitdown Here
by John Yago

The Diamond department store here was the target Saturday of a seven-hour sitdown by college students protesting segregation at the store's lunch counter.

The group of about 25 demonstrators, Negro and white, mostly students at nearby West Virginia State College, entered the store about 9:45 a. m. and took seats at the first floor lunch counter.

They left the store one by one at 4:30 p. m. without the Negroes having been served.

Three city policemen, including one Negro officer, stood by during the last half-hour of the sitdown. There was no disturbance.

A few white youths and non-student sympathizers were with the Negro students who spent the foodless day at the counter and adjoining tables. They occupied more than half of the available seats.

The sitdown had no apparent effect on business as white customers continued to take seats and be served at the lunch counter.

The Diamond, West Virginia's largest department store, was the scene last summer of other sit-down protests.

William M. McKim, manager of The Diamond, declined to comment on the demonstration.

West Virginia State was an all-Negro college until state colleges integrated six years ago. Its present enrollment is about half Negro and half white.

Charleston hotels and theaters are integrated, as are several of the city's eating establishments.

Negroes in Bluefield recently staged demonstrations against segregated theaters and restaurants.

White sympathizers accompanying the Negroes were served during the day, as were other shoppers who crowded the store.

The students said waitresses told them they would not be served when they sat down at the lunch counter Saturday morning.

The sitdown was carried off without incident as the Negro students, well-dressed and quiet, passed the day reading and chatting occasionally with a companion.

One girl read a German grammar book. Another scored music. Some looked at magazines.

One white man said Saturday morning he joined the protest "because I support what they are doing." He was served a cup of coffee which he stirred and occasionally sipped.

A Negro coed said she "used to patronize The Diamond, but I haven't been in here for 15 months."

African Americans

West Virginia Archives and History