Tired of having no result and noticing that things did not change, the students launched a new form of protest: the sit-ins. They were independent from any organization. The first sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960 was followed by a lot of similar actions. Franklin McCain, one of the students who initiated the sit-in movement, explained that the idea was to stay at the Woolworth's lunch counter until they get served. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was created. This shows that students had a real supervision power and would prove that they had influence on the evolution of racial issues in America. Ella Baker, a prominent figure of the Civil Rights Movements, was even an advisor to the students. The Committee followed her lead focusing on local leadership. It highlights the potential of this new form of action. These protests, growing bigger and bigger, bore fruits quickly. In October 1960, during the presidential election campaign, John F. Kennedy committed himself to try to set Martin Luther King, Jr. free. He was arrested after having participated in a sit-in in Atlanta. Kennedy was elected, the black vote was an important factor in his victory. He dedicated a part of his legislative agenda to the voting rights violation and later, to the expansion of federal civil rights laws. The Freedom Rides, introduced by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), were another type of action consisting in challenging segregation on buses and in terminals. Even if the Freedom Riders experienced violent attacks, the movement went on. It even forced the federal state of Mississippi to protect the Freedom Riders. It seems that American society was transforming. The movement had a new face, brought by this new generation and the rise of young white activists.
The new waves of protests were not all nonviolent. The efficiency of violence was actually a real debate during that time. Robert F. Williams, the president of Monroe NAACP chapter, was convinced that violence was necessary to get more rights. As the laws failed to protect “the weak”, violence was the only way to protect themselves. Passive resistance was not powerful enough to reach desegregation. Williams insists on the capacity of violence to get more justice: this is thanks to a group of black men that the Klan was deprived of its constitutional rights in Monroe. Violence must be the reply of violence. All the trials that resulted with no justice for black people were intolerable. They would be “delivered from bondage” only by fighting back. Martin Luther King did not advocate violence but recognized the legitimacy of self-defense. For him, violence as a means of advancement cannot bring people together and position them as a weak minority. The power lies in congregation: mass boycotts, sit-ins, strikes, mass meetings, mass marches...The Gandhi model is a proof that massive nonviolent protestations are successful to disband the enemy. Furthering that idea, Franklin McCain explained that solidarity and patience were the key words of the sit-ins which happened to be efficient.
There were clearly two schools of thought which emerged in the 1960s. The first one followed the traditional path of nonviolence advocated by the NAACP and Martin Luther King among others but chose a new way of demonstrating. The second one advocated violence and weapons to fight segregation. The Civil Rights Movement was then seen in a new light and reached a new degree in the struggle for rights and justice.