The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in downtown Greensboro has a very big night planned for its annual awards and fundraising gala on Saturday, Feb. 1.

However, the museum has been notified that one world-famous guest it had invited will not be attending this year. On Saturday, Jan. 17, the museum was notified by the Obama Foundation that former President Barack Obama will be out of the country on the night of the gala and will not be able to attend.

A press release sent out by the museum on Jan. 17, seemed to maintain at least a tiny bit of hope. It states, “The Museum will make a public announcement of any changes in this situation.”

The release stated Obama was to be honored that night with the Alston/Jones International Civil and Human Rights Award and also that museum officials had been eagerly awaiting Obama’s reply since last summer.

Even without the 44th president of the United States, the gala promises to be a night to remember. It will mark the 60th Anniversary of the time four students from NC A&T State University protested against racially segregated lunch counters and ignited the Sit-In Movement that spread quickly across the south in the early ‘60s. The 2020 Gala will also celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the museum’s opening and honor national and local activists who’ve helped advance human and civil rights over the years. The theme of the 2020 Gala is “The Movement Continues.”

John Swaine, the museum’s CEO, stated in the press release that museum supporters are really looking forward to the event.

“We have had a very high level of enthusiastic response to our Gala this year,” Swaine stated. “A lot of people from the local area and from considerably farther away have expressed a desire to convene at this point in the nation’s history and join in the celebration of the momentous start of the Sit-In Movement.”

The civil rights museum will be observing the 60th Anniversary of the historic event all year with a special celebration on Saturday, July 25, the date on which the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Greensboro was finally racially integrated.  

During the gala, the Rev. Al Sharpton will be honored, for his work on behalf of civil rights and human equality, with the Lifetime Achievement Award; and actor, and activist Danny Glover, well known for Lethal Weapon and other major hits, will receive the ICRCM Trailblazer Award.  The museum will also recognize Clayola Brown, union leader and labor activist, as an Unsung Hero – and honor Rev. Dr. Cardes H. Brown Jr., with the Lifetime Community Service Award. Also, Dr. Linda B. Brown and Emma Washington will be the 2020 Sit-In Participant Award honorees for their part in the sit-ins at Woolworth’s in 1960.

The event will start at 7 p.m. on the first day of February at the Greensboro Coliseum. Those who wish to attend may learn more or make reservations online by visiting