GREENSBORO, N.C. — Civil Rights leader and one of the “Greensboro Four” Franklin McCain has died following a brief illness.
McCain’s death on Thursday was confirmed by the family.
While a student at N.C. A&T State University, McCain and three other A&T freshmen, now known as the “Greensboro Four, as well as the “A&T Four,” initiated the sit-in movement when they sat down at the F. W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro on Feb. 1, 1960, and requested service.
The consequences of their courageous action have become a permanent part of our nation’s civil rights legacy.
A portion of the actual lunch counter where they demonstrated is on exhibit at the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington. D.C.
“Our Daddy was a man who deeply loved his family and cherished his friends,” says Franklin McCain, Jr., McCain’s oldest son. “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.”
McCain was born in Union County, N.C. in 1942, and raised in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Eastern High School in 1959 and attended North Carolina A&T State University.
In 1964, McCain graduated from A&T with a degree in chemistry and biology.
The following year he married the late Bettye Davis, a Bennett College alumna and fellow participant in the Greensboro civil rights demonstrations.
McCain worked for the Celanese Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina, for almost 35 years.
Over the years, McCain remained involved in numerous civic activities and community organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which he served as chair of the North Carolina regional committee. He also served as chair of the board of trustees of N.C. A&T.
In addition, McCain served on the boards of Bennett College, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
McCain received an honorary doctorate from North Carolina A&T State University in 1994 for his contribution to the civil rights movement.
McCain’s wife Bettye passed away on Jan. 2, 2013.
The family released a statement:
“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.”
Funeral arrangements for McCain are incomplete.