A Reflection on History

Etiquette and the Civil Rights Movement

Etiquette is defined as the customary code of behavior in society among members in a particular group according to the Conventions of Society.

We are making history during this unsettling time. The protests launched in the United States have spread rapidly, including a global impact in reaction to the treatment of African Americans and how their lives are undervalued. I’m reminded of history during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  During the Civil Rights era, several sit-in demonstrations were conducted by students at the countertop of various businesses. To carry out these demonstrations a code of ethics was established: The Do’s and Don’t’s in a Sit-in Movement. Below are some of the rules during the sit in movements:

          Do’s and Don’ts during the Sit-In Movement

  • Do show yourself friendly on the counter at all times

  • Do sit straight and always face the counter

  • Don't strike back, or curse back if attacked

  • Don't laugh out

  • Don't hold conversations

  • Don't block entrances

  • Dress in Sunday clothing's best

The code of ethics was established with the belief that the students would project something that the entire community could rally around and support—nonviolent resistance.


The 2020 protests have taken on their own code of behavior. They are a reflection of the times and a reaction to the social contract that has been broken. Hopefully, change will take place. May we remember to all march forward with respect and honor Lady Justice.

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