As part of a tradition spanning over two decades, third graders at Lynbrook’s Marion Street School paid tribute to Joseph McNeil, one of the leaders of the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-ins that helped desegregate the South. This marked the 21st year that Mr. McNeil has come to the school to give students a living history lesson about the Civil Rights Movement.
Each year, to honor Mr. McNeil, the students put on a show illustrating some aspect of the Civil Rights Movement. This year the students entitled their show “This Is Your Life, Mr. McNeil,” to honor this historic figure on his 70th birthday.
The show traced the history of his life, from his early days growing up in the South under the Jim Crow laws through his college days at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, where he and three classmates made history by staging a sit-in at Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter in Greensboro, refusing to leave until they were served, through his distinguished military career in the U.S. Air Force to the present. At the end of the show, students presented Mr. McNeil with a giant birthday card to commemorate the occasion.
As an added treat, students invited their pen pals from P.S. 161 in Brooklyn to share the experience of meeting Mr. McNeil, and also to meet one another for the first time. After the show, Mr. McNeil visited third-grade classrooms to speak personally with students.