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Greensboro Four member shares his story of 1960s sit-ins

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Greensboro Four member shares his story of 1960s sit-ins
Dennis Halls (left), Suffolk Superior Court assistant chief probation officer with Jibreel Khazan, one of the Greensboro Four. PHOTO: DENNIS HALLS

Jibreel Khazan, a member of the Greensboro Four, shared his story of leading sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in 1960s North Carolina during the state Trial Court’s annual Cultural Appreciation Week, believed to be the largest celebration of its kind in any court system in the country.

Massachusetts Trial Court Administrator Thomas Ambrosino; Suffolk Registrar of Probate and Family Court Stephanie Everett; Deputy Commissioner of Pretrial Services Pamerson Ifill; Massachusetts Trial Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Locke; and Suffolk Probate and Family employee and Cultural Proficiency Champion Tawauka Bryant. PHOTO: CORIA HOLLAND

The New Bedford resident in his 80s was the keynote speaker at the Suffolk Superior Court event Oct. 20. Khazan, whose name was Ezell Blair Jr. before he converted to Islam, spoke about the sit-ins, their impact on the Civil Rights Movement and the challenges and dangers the demonstrators, all college students at the time, faced. Khazan’s talk was delivered in a video created by Dennis Halls, assistant chief probation officer of the Suffolk Superior Court, who regards Khazan as a mentor.

The talk was one of 80 events in courthouses across the state as part of the seventh annual celebration conceived by Pamerson Ifill, deputy commissioner of pretrial services for the Massachusetts Probation Service. Each year, Ifill organizes more than 300 Cultural Proficiency Champions, who are Trial Court employees, to plan celebrations of culture, diversity and community in courthouses and communities. The Champions also help court users navigate the court system throughout the year.

This year’s week of activities included a cultural attire fashion show, music and dance performances, art and museum exhibits, cooking demonstrations, food tastings, feasts, naturalization ceremonies and ceremonies featuring court and local leaders.

Greensboro Four, segregated lunch counters, sit ins