Frank McCain, Jr. on the Greensboro Four, his father’s legacy and the movement that changed the nation
Franklin McCain, Jabreel Khazan (Ezell Blair), Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond set out to desegregate the “White’s Only” Woolworth’s Lunch Counter on Feb 1. 1960
Four NC A&T State University freshmen wanted to change segregation in Greensboro and sparked a movement nationwide. The date: Feb 1, 1960.
The goal was to request coffee at the “White’s Only” Woolworth’s lunch counter and remain seated until served. What happened after that, changed history.
We talked to Franklin McCain’s eldest son, Frank McCain, Jr. about the day that changed his father’s life and the nation.
“The Sit-In Movement, Feb. 1, 1960, that my father, Ezell Blair, David Richmond, and Joseph McNeil started was about peaceful protest,” said Frank McCain, Jr. “My father talked to me about that day as the day he thought he reached manhood. He felt liberated. He felt like he became part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.”
That day and the months of peaceful protests to follow was about affecting change to create an equal society.
“They felt like maybe they would start a movement on a local level. They did feel as though other students from A&T and the women from Bennett College, students from UNCG, Guilford College, and even Greensboro College might join them, but they did not think that they would create a movement that would spread throughout the country, the way that it did,” said McCain, Jr.
Eventually, the Sit-In Movement would spread to 55 cities in 13 states, paving the way for integration across the deeply divided south.
McCain Jr. says though the Sit-In Movement is a significant part of his father’s legacy, the fight for justice is far from over.
“It is a constant reminder, and I can hear his voice in my head of the many things he taught us over the years, and it serves as a reminder that the world is bigger than any of us individually and collectively, we can influence change,” said McCain, Jr.
McCain, Jr. talked about the Greensboro Four, his father’s legacy, and the movement that changed the nation during a candid conversation with WFMY News 2’s Tracey McCain. But he also reflected on his father’s role at home raising three boys and passing on his legacy.
“He was my Super Hero!” said McCain, Jr. “His passing means, the family, specifically my brothers and I have to step up to the plate and speak about our father because we knew him best. He did create a legacy that we are all proud of but it also means for us that we have a responsibility to create our own legacy. It does not have to be at the magnitude that he had but we all have the responsibility to speak out against injustices and the wrongs as we see them,” he said.
NC A&T will hold a free virtual tribute to honor the 61st anniversary of the Sit-Ins live on the university’s Facebook page. You can join in on the celebration starting at Noon today.