Skip to Content


A sit-in is a form of peaceful protest that involves sitting down and occupying space, often preventing access to a business or public space.

Sit-ins empower individuals to take direct action in support of their cause, regardless of their social or economic background.

This form of protest enables ordinary citizens to make their voices heard and influence policy decisions.

Sit-ins also serve as an important example of nonviolent resistance, demonstrating that peaceful protest can be a powerful tool for social change.

The concept of the sit-in as a form of protest can be traced back to various examples in history; however, it gained widespread attention and momentum during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

The sit-in tactic was utilized to protest against racial segregation in public spaces, particularly in the Southern United States.

On February 1, 1960, four African American college students staged a lunch counter sit-in at a segregated in Greensboro, North Carolina, sparking a wave of sit-ins across the country. This landmark event demonstrated the power of nonviolent direct action in achieving social change and inspired other movements to adopt the sit-in as a protest strategy.


The Greensboro sit-in was a civil rights protest that started in 1960, when young African-American students staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and refused to leave after being denied service.

The sit-in movement soon spread to college towns throughout the South.

Though many of the protesters were arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, their actions made an immediate and lasting impact, forcing Woolworth’s and other establishments to change their segregationist policies.

Sit-ins are still considered an effective form of peaceful protest for their visibility and peaceful tactics.

Characteristics of Sit-Ins

Nonviolent: Sit-ins are grounded in the principles of nonviolence, with participants remaining peaceful and non-confrontational throughout the protest. This approach often leads to a moral high ground, garnering public sympathy and support for the protesters’ cause.

Occupation: During a sit-in, protesters occupy a physical space that is either publicly accessible or privately owned. This occupation serves to disrupt the regular functioning of the location, drawing attention to the issue at hand and potentially pressuring the targeted establishment or authorities to address the protesters’ demands.

Persistence: Sit-ins are characterized by a refusal to leave the occupied space until certain conditions are met or demands are addressed. This persistence is intended to create pressure on the target and demonstrate the protesters’ commitment to their cause.

Publicity: Sit-ins often attract media attention, raising public awareness about the issue at hand and potentially generating support for the protesters’ cause. The visual impact of sit-ins, combined with the nonviolent nature of the protest, can create powerful images that sway public opinion.

Solidarity: Sit-ins often involve a diverse group of participants who come together in support of a common cause, demonstrating unity and solidarity in their shared objective.

Examples of “sit-in” in a sentence:

  • The group of environmental activists organized a sit-in at the entrance of the oil company’s headquarters, demanding an immediate transition to renewable energy sources.
  • The students staged a sit-in outside the university administration building, protesting the rising tuition fees and calling for increased financial aid.
  • Inspired by the success of the Civil Rights Movement, the LGBTQ+ community used sit-ins as a tactic to protest discriminatory policies and advocate for equal rights.