Featuring: High Point – Greensboro – Caswell County

February 11th Monument

The Civil Rights Movement is a key element of High Point’s history and has helped to dramatically improve race relations in the city. On February 1, 1960, a group of four college students began a sit-in at a Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. News spread quickly to High Point and in a few days a High Point native and past City Councilwoman started to organize the High Point sit-in. Mary Lou Andrews, now Blakeny, was 15 at the time and a student at the all-black William Pen High School. After hearing the news of the sit-in in Greensboro, she began meeting with friends to stage a sit-in in High Point. She approached local Reverend, Benjamin Elton Cox and a retired teacher, Miriam Fountain. After some hesitation due to their age, Cox agreed to train the students in nonviolent resistance at his church. On February 11, 1960, twenty-six students, led by Cox and joined by his friends Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Douglas Moore, marched from Washington Street to the F.W. Woolworth’s on South Main Street to launch the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in High Point, NC. The store was set up so that blacks and whites could order food, but only the whites could eat there. After a signal, the students sat at the empty seats and stood behind seats occupied by white patrons. While the students were studying homework and reading history at the counter, they never realized that they too, would become a part of an important piece of history as the first organized high school sit-in in the United States.

Paying Homage to John Coltrane

John Coltrane became a jazz legend after releasing his masterpiece A Love Supreme in 1965. Contemporary critics called it the most important album of post-war jazz as it sold a half million copies and quickly cemented Coltrane’s place in the Jazz pantheon. But the musical beginnings of the groundbreaking saxophonist took place decades earlier on a quiet little street in east High Point called Underhill Road. John Coltrane’s family moved to High Point when he was just an infant. He and his parents lived with his grandparents and his cousin’s family in a house that was built by his grandfather in 1928. In 1939, Coltrane joined Warren B. Steele’s community band, starting out on alto horn and later moving to clarinet. The success of the community band inspired William Penn Principal, Samuel Burford to start a school band in 1940. Coltrane joined as a founding member of the school band under the direction of Grayce W. Yokely. Later, Coltrane developed an interest in the saxophone practicing with Charlie Haygood, a restaurant owner on Washington Street. By his senior year, Coltrane’s musical talents earned him the vote of “most musical.” He also earned a lyre for his participation with the Boys’ Chorus. Now, John Coltrane is proudly displayed throughout High Point with his childhood two-story home being a historic property, an eight-foot bronzed statue sitting on the corner of Commerce Avenue and Hamilton Street offering an interactive kiosk so you can hear some of his music, and an exhibit at the High Point Museum featuring various artifacts including the piano that was in his childhood home. In addition, the Friends of John Coltrane, LLC host an annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival at Oak Hollow Festival Park every Labor Day weekend!

Historic Washington Street

Early in High Point’s history, Washington Street became the “Main Street” of the African American community. Along Washington Street, schools provided top-quality education for High Point’s African Americans during an era when no public education was available to them. Congregations built and consecrated churches, while hotels offered hospitality. Dr. G.A. Gerran hung out his shingle on Washington Street and became the first documented African American physician in the city. Attorneys, realtors, undertakers, dentists, and pharmacists opened their doors along the street as well. By the early twentieth century, a movie theatre offered entertainment. Buildings like the Odd Fellows Hall provided meeting space. Despite the inequalities of the past, Washington Street became a bustling center of African American education, business, worship, entertainment, and community.

Becky & Mary's

Featured in Our State Magazine, Becky & Mary’s is an institution, where love is the main ingredient and every dish comes with a side of conversation. This family-owned soul food restaurant is a time capsule to the old South, where people learned recipes at the hips of grandmothers and rarely counted calories on any afternoon, especially Sunday. With the hand written menu on the wall, the aroma of candied yams and the sound of frying bacon – you’ll be reminded why food and fellowship bind us like glue in the south!

To learn more, visit their Facebook page.

Uncle Cheesecake

When people start telling you that they’ll never buy desserts from the store again, you know that what they have to offer is good. At Uncle Cheesecake, you’ll find that everything is made from scratch and utterly delicious. Featured on Food Network’s Chopped, this veteran-owned bakery has been satisfying every sweet tooth that walks in since 2015. While they are especially well-known for their cheesecake, you can always count on Uncle Cheesecake for other sweet treats including wedding cakes, birthday cakes, bread pudding and more; as well as coffee, lemonade and an assortment of other beverages. Desserts can be customized to fit your tastes, from the crust to the toppings, ensuring that you never go back to picking up your treats from the grocery store again.

To see the menu, visit their website.

Sidwill's Cafe & Catering

SidWill’s is a family owned restaurant passionate about providing you with a level of service that doesn’t just meet industry needs. Feel like you’re stepping into Grandma’s kitchen with this southern cooking soul food! They do catering too and will give you that home cooked taste without you having to work in the kitchen all day. Their talented, competent, and friendly staff are sure to make your next event the talk of the town!

To see what they offer, visit their website.

Buy Black Guide

Your roadmap to black-owned brands, businesses & professionals. With the goal to mend the economic and systematic gaps that plague the African American community today, a High point woman, Temoura Jefferies took it upon herself to launch a new business with the mission to spread awareness of Black-owned businesses. Since their 2020 launch, they now have hundreds of Black-Owned businesses listed within their guide from all over the nation!

To learn more, visit their website.

International Civil Rights Center & Museum

Located in the former F.W. Woolworth retail store, this must-see vital piece of history takes you on a journey into American Civil Rights History with vivid photography, artifacts, video reenactments, and interactive galleries.

It was here that 60 years ago, four teenage NC A&T State University students, known as the A&T Four, sat down at the “Whites Only” lunch counter and began America’s sit-in movement that sparked a nationwide push for equality and justice for all.

Today, the ICRCM stands as a monument of courage and change.

To learn more, visit the website here. 

Thomas Day House/Union Tavern

Thomas Day House/Union Tavern is a federal style tavern (circa 1818) used by Thomas Day for both a residence and a cabinet maker’s shop during the height of his career (1848-61) as the largest luxury furniture manufacturer in NC by 1850. The museum houses Day furniture and architectural elements. While you’re here, stop across the street to learn more about Thomas Day, his life as a freed black man, and his influential impact on Caswell County. You can contact the Museum and Visitor Center here.