Here's a link to an op/ed I wrote on the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-lewis31-2010jan31,0,7040075.story
The first and last paragraphs:
The "sixties" were born on Feb. 1, 1960, 50 years ago this week, when four African American college students staged the first sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. Since then, the mythology of the '60s has dominated the idea of youthful activism . . .There are many lessons from the sit-ins relevant to the lives of today's young people. Before it was a bumper sticker, SNCC lived out the true meaning of "think globally, act locally." But the most important lesson is to stop looking at the '60s as the manual for modern activism. What made the sit-ins so powerful is how they broke away from the prevailing wisdom to create a new model for change. Look forward, not back, I tell them. It's not your parents' movement anymore.