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Letter from Clarence Harris to Tom Osborne

Date: August 10, 1983

Author: Clarence Harris

Biographical/Historical abstract: Clarence Lee "Curly" Harris (1905-1999) was the manager of the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro when four North Carolina A&T State University students sat-in at the lunch counter on February 1, 1960, setting off civil rights protests in Greensboro and throughout the country.

Additional contributor:


This August 10, 1983 handwritten letter from Clarence “Curly” Harris to Greensboro City Manager Tom Osborne, introduces Osborne to Harris' perspectives on the Greensboro Woolworth sit-ins and the demise of the downtown retail trade from Harris' perspective as manager of the Woolworth store. In this letter Harris describes the effects of the sit-ins, the Woolworth operation in general, as well as later planning and development decisions made by the city of Greensboro that impacted his store.

Harris notes that the Greensboro Woolworth store was one of the top stores in the chain in 1960, and that, by contract, he was "in complete control" of the store. He details losses in sales and profit due to the sit-ins, and goes on to discuss the impact of the adjacent city-county governmental center's construction in 1969 and of the increasing lack of free parking in the central business district. Harris complains that the city favored office development over retail downtown, leading to decay there. He closes by stating that Greensboro is not an "anti-social" city and noting that the 1960 sit-ins might have been considerably more violent had they occurred elsewhere.


Format of original: Correspondence

Collection: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Repository: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Item#: 1.4.1151

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Civil Rights Greensboro and the appropriate repository.

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