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Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and you have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Matthew 23:22-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

I used to love to go to Woolworth’s in Atlanta. It was always a special treat. Growing up in the south in the 1960’s was a challenge as desegregation kicked in. Anyone remember Lester Maddox? A populist Democrat, Maddox came to prominence as a staunch segregationist when he refused to serve black customers in his Atlanta restaurant, in defiance of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In shame, I remember his ax handle.

The segregated south was a classic example of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. In God’s Kingdom, justice will be done. Mercy is important. Faithfulness to human dignity may take time but it is God’s way. These cannot be neglected.

The History Channel: “On February 1, 1960, the four students sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, where the official policy was to refuse service to anyone but whites. Denied service, the four young men refused to give up their seats. Police arrived on the scene, but were unable to take action due to the lack of provocation.

“By that time, [Ralph Johns] had already alerted the local media, who had arrived in full force to cover the events on television. The Greensboro Four stayed put until the store closed, then returned the next day with more students from local colleges. By February 5, some 300 students had joined the protest at Woolworth’s, paralyzing the lunch counter and other local businesses. …

By the end of March the movement had spread to 55 cities in 13 states. Though many were arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, national media coverage of the sit-ins brought increasing attention to the civil rights movement.

“In response to the success of the sit-in movement, dining facilities across the South were being integrated by the summer of 1960. At the end of July, when many local college students were on summer vacation, the Greensboro Woolworth’s quietly integrated its lunch counter. Four black Woolworth’s employees—Geneva Tisdale, Susie Morrison, Anetha Jones and Charles Best—were the first to be served.

Greensboro Sit-in Movement, North Carolina, Civil Rights