A Sit-In in Arlington

On June 9, 1960, six college students, black and white, walked into the Cherrydale Drug Fair.
cherrydale drug fair sit-in

Cherrydale Drug Fair, 1960. (Photo courtesy of CC Public Library, Star Collection, ©Washington Post)

It was an act of resistance that has echoed through the decades. On June 9, 1960, six college students sat at the lunch counter at Arlington’s Cherrydale Drug Fair and were refused service because of the racial mix of their group. Their sit-in attracted onlookers, a few of whom hurled insults and threats—including George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, then headquartered in Arlington. But through it all, the protesters remained cool and unflinching. Some passed the time reading the Bible and philosophy books. Their peaceful protest continued the next day, sparking similar sit-ins nearby. Within two weeks, lunch counters across Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax changed their policies and desegregated.

To commemorate this pivotal moment in history, the Cherrydale Citizens Association on June 9, 2018, unveiled a plaque at the Cherrydale Drug Fair’s former location (it’s now a fishing supplies shop). In attendance were three of the sit-in’s original participants—Dion Diamond, Ethelene Crockett Jones and Joan Trumpauer (now Mulholland).

“This is a bigger crowd than when we left the sit-in,” Mulholland remarked, looking out at the nearly 100 locals gathered in appreciation. Added Jones, smiling: “And much friendlier.”

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Categories: Local History