Excerpt from It was never about a hot dog and a Coke!
Chapter 6-The Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP and the 1960 Sit-in Demonstrations
“In 1960, Woolworth represented one of the many vestiges of segregation that openly insulted Blacks daily. As a retail store that opened its doors to the public, Woolworth, as well as W. T. Grant, Kress, McCrory’s, and Cohen Brothers, would accept your money as a shopper at one counter, but not accept your money or allow you to shop at another.
Located at the corner of Monroe and Hogan in downtown Jacksonville, Woolworth Department Store was one of several major downtown stores. In today’s terms, Woolworth was an anchor store downtown. You would have also considered J. C. Penney an anchor store. Both stores were located next to each other and shared a common wall. You could literally walk from J. C. Penney to F. W. Woolworth without going outside, and behind both stores stood the Robert Meyer Hotel. Together, the three structures occupied an entire city block. (The recently built Federal Court House now sits on that site).
When you entered Woolworth from Hogan Street and looked to the left, you could see a lunch counter spanning the entire Monroe Street side of the store. Eighty-four lunch counter seats were punctuated by spacious customer-serving bays and bright windows.
You could stop and eat at Woolworth’s convenient lunch counter after spending time shopping in Woolworth or after shopping downtown. You could, that is, if you were white. For Blacks, an invisible sign read, “Lunch Counter, FOR WHITES ONLY.”
If black shoppers wanted to eat in Woolworth after shopping, the process worked differently. Woolworth wanted you to spend your money, but only where they wanted you to spend your money.
Enter Woolworth again. The white lunch counter is on your left. If you started walking to the rear of the store, you’d walk past the cosmetics counter;
then walk past the costume jewelry counter;
then walk past the popcorn popper;
then walk past the candy counter;
then walk past the women’s clothes counter;
then walk past the men’s clothes counter;
then walk past the children clothes counter;
then walk past the “White” and “Colored” water fountains;
then walk past the work shoes counter;
then walk past the dress shoes counter;
then walk past the bedroom shoes counter;
then walk past the picture frames and mirrors counter;
then walk past the aquarium supplies counter;
then walk past the stairs leading upstairs to restrooms marked “White Women,” “White Men,” “Colored Women,” “Colored Men”;
then walk past the pet food and pet supplies counter;
then walk past the house plants;
then walk past the gardening supplies counter;
AND THEN, and only then, would you see the Colored lunch counter, with its fifteen seats and no windows.”