On the afternoon of July 16, 1960, eight African-American students bravely filed into the whites-only Greenville County (S.C.) Public Library and sat down in the reading room to look at newspapers and books. One of those students was a young Jesse Jackson—later to become famous as a civil rights activist and minister—who was home in Greenville on summer break from the University of Illinois.Joan Mattison DanielJoan Mattison DanielAnother of the students was Joan Mattison Daniel, a then-18-year-old freshman at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, who recently told American Libraries that “Jesse Jackson was responsible for our getting together to stage the sit-in. He had come home in January and needed a book to write a paper. The book was not at the colored branch library, a small, one-room house on East McBee Avenue.” Librarian Jeanette Smith told him it would take another six days to get the book he wanted, which would have been too late. “So Jackson went to the main library to look for it,” Daniel said. “He was told he could not use that library, and that was the beginning of it.” He vowed to come back in the summer.
Source: The Greenville Eight | American Libraries Magazine, by George M. Eberhart