Franklin McCain, Of The Greensboro Four, Dies

7:16 PM, Jan 10, 2014   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Franklin McCain, civil rights leader and one of the Greensboro Four, has died.

McCain was born Jan. 3, 1941, in Union County, N.C., and grew up in Washington, D.C. He was 73 years old when he died Thursday night.

McCain attended North Carolina A&T State University. He is best known for starting the sit-in movement. 

On Feb. 1, 1960, McCain sat down at a whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth's on Elm Street. He was accompanied by three other A&T students: Ezell Blair Jr. (Jibreel Khazan), Joseph McNeil and David Richmond.

Read: Who Are The Greensboro Four?
Read: What Was Life Like In 1960?

The Greensboro Four's actions started a nationwide movement. 

On Feb. 2, 1960, 25 students from A&T and other Greensboro schools joined them. Over the following 10 days, the movement gained momentum across North Carolina. By the end of that month demonstrations took place in at least 250 major cities across the country.

The Woolworth's where the Greensboro Four staged the sit-ins is now the site of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. The museum opened Feb. 1, 2010, 50 years after the sit-ins took place.

Read: NC A&T Honors The Greensboro Four
Read: The Impact Of The Greensboro Sit-In, 52 Years Later

McCain graduated from A&T in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology. In the year after he graduated, McCain married Bennett College alumna, Bettye Davis. 

He worked for the Celanese Corporation in Charlotte for almost 35 years. He continued to be involved with civic and community organizations, including the NAACP.

In 1994, McCain received an honorary doctorate from A&T for his contributions to the civil rights movement.

Read: NC A&T Vows To Honor Civil Rights Hero's Legacy
Read: ICRCM Director Reflects On Franklin McCain's Legacy

Bettye died Jan. 2, 2013. McCain is survived by his sons and their families.

"Our Daddy was a man who deeply loved his family and cherished his friends," said Franklin McCain, Jr., McCain's oldest son, in a statement. "We will forever treasure the wonderful memories that we have and be thankful for all that he did for us and for his fellow man."

Funeral Arrangements

McCain's funeral is scheduled for Jan. 17 at Friendship Baptist Church, located at 3400 Beatties Ford Rd. in Charlotte, N.C. Visitation begins at 12 p.m.; the funeral is at 2 p.m.

The McCain family released the following statement:

Late yesterday our father, Franklin E. McCain Sr., passed away in Greensboro after a brief illness.  To the world, he was a civil rights pioneer who, along with his three classmates, dared to make a difference by starting the sit-in movement at the F.W. Woolworth Store here in Greensboro.

To us, he was "Daddy" - a man who deeply loved his family and cherished his friends.  We will forever treasure the wonderful memories that we have and be thankful for all that he did for us and for his fellow man.  We ask for your understanding as we request privacy during this difficult time as we plan his services.  As soon as arrangements have been made we will let you know.
Thank you again for your understanding.

The Family of Franklin E. McCain Sr.

Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. with North Carolina A&T State University released the following statement:

The Aggie family mourns the loss of Dr. Franklin McCain. His contributions to this university, the city of Greensboro and the nation as a civil rights leader is without measure. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of Aggies and friends throughout the world.

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) released the following statement:

The death of civil rights leader Franklin McCain is a tremendous loss for North Carolina and our country. As a young student in 1960, Franklin's courage to sit at a lunch counter where he was not welcomed helped spark a movement that changed the course of our history. Franklin was an inspiration to me, and I am deeply saddened by the loss of a man Chip and I were honored to call a friend. Our thoughts, prayers and sincere condolences are with his family at this difficult time.

Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement:

Franklin McCain made his mark on American history in 1960 with a simple act of extraordinary courage. The selfless actions of McCain and the other three North Carolina A&T students were only the beginning of what became a national moment of nonviolent protest that changed our country. McCain continued his education at NC A&T, graduating with degrees in biology and chemistry. Although social progress can seem slow, McCain never gave up on his native North Carolina, living and working in Charlotte for 35 years before returning to Greensboro. His death follows a life of service to his community and is a true loss for our state.

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