Civil Rights Legacy of the presiding Nelson Chair


The Richmond 34

On February 20, 1960, over 200 Virginia Union University students marched to downtown Richmond, VA to stage a sit-in at lunch counters and restaurants that practiced racial segregation.

The students walked from the campus on Lombardy Street down Broad Street until they arrived at the shopping district along Broad and Grace Streets. Once there, they entered the “whites only” dining area of Thalhimers Department Store, sat at the lunch counter and asked for service. On that day, the students were refused service, but they remained in their seats until the store closed. 

Two days later on February 22nd, 34 Virginia Union students, including Dr. Anderson J. Franklin, returned to the Richmond Room at Thalhimers Department Store, again sitting at the lunch counter asking to be served. The students were told to leave. When they refused, Richmond City police arrested the students for trespassing at the request of Thalhimers' management. Their arrest marked one of the first mass arrests of the Civil Rights Movement and initiated the Campaign for Human Dignity that eventually dismantled the Jim Crow System in Richmond. These students became known as the “Richmond 34”—a reference to their place in the Civil Rights Movement that had just recently begun using “sit-ins” as a form of peaceful protest of segregationist policies. 

(Excerpt from the Sit-In Stand Out study guide)

The names of those courageous students are:

  • Leroy M. Bray, Jr.
  • Gordon Coleman
  • Gloria C. Collins
  • Robert B. Dalton
  • Joseph E. Ellison
  • Marise L. Ellison
  • Wendell T. Foster, Jr.
  • Anderson J. Franklin
  • Donald Vincent Goode
  • Woodrow B. Grant
  • Albert Van Graves, Jr.
  • George Wendall Harris, Jr.
  • Thalma Y. Hickman
  • Joanna Hinton
  • Carolyn Ann Horne
  • Richard C. Jackson
  • Elizabeth Patricia Johnson
Photo of Thalhimers protesters
Photo of Thalhimers protesters
  • Ford Tucker Johnson, Jr.
  • Milton Johnson
  • Celia E. Jones
  • Clarence A. Jones
  • John J. McCall
  • Frank George Pinkston
  • Larry Pridgen
  • Ceotis L. Pryor
  • Raymond B. Randolph, Jr.
  • Samuel F. Shaw
  • Charles M. Sherrod
  • Virginia G. Simms
  • Ronald B. Smith
  • Barbara A. Thornton
  • Randolf A. Tobias
  • Patricia A. Washington
  • Lois B. White