Fifty years to the day after 34 Virginia Union University students were arrested for trying to eat at a downtown Richmond lunch counter, hundreds of students from throughout central Virginia crowded the Carpenter Center today for a mid-morning stage presentation on the event.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion with three of the 34.
“The battle for equality is something that will always go on,“ said Ford T. Johnson Jr., one of the students who 50 years ago walked from VUU’s Lombardy Street campus to the Richmond Room at the Thalhimers department store at Sixth and Broad streets. They were refused service, then they in turn refused to leave. They were arrested, setting in place a process that in less than two years would see the complete integration of the store.
Moderator Sheila Johnson, the corporate tycoon who helped found Black Entertainment Television, encouraged a crowd of about 1,000, mostly students, to continue to fight for righteous causes.
“Dr. [Martin Luther] King didn’t open the doors of opportunity so we could slam them shut a generation later,“ she said.
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