Minorities
6:28 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Memorial Service Planned at A&T State University for one of the 'Greensboro Four'

One of the Greensboro Four has died. A memorial service for Franklin McCain will take place later this week in Guilford County and in Charlotte.

Franklin McCain died after a brief illness on Thursday.
Credit A&T State University

North Carolina A&T State University is planning a memorial service to honor civil rights pioneer Franklin McCain. The 73-year-old died last Thursday.

In 1960, McCain was one of the four freshmen at the university who led sit-ins to integrate the Woolworth lunch counter in downtown Greensboro.

“The sit-in movement that they started in Greensboro spread throughout the state and eventually throughout the American South and forever changed the American South in terms of integrating lunch counters, and ultimately public transportation and all public facilities in the South,” says Arwin Smallwood,  Chair of the Department of History at N.C A&T.

McCain graduated from A&T in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology. In 1994, McCain received an honorary doctorate from A&T for his contributions to the civil rights movement.

Smallwood says he learned a lot about the civil rights leader growing up and during his studies about African American history. He says McCain’s story has impacted him personally.

“Before coming to NC A & T, I was a professor at The University of Memphis. Clearly if it had not been for the civil rights movement, the sit in and people like him, I don’t believe that I would have had the opportunity to teach at that university. For example, if we look at the impact of the civil rights movement  on that university, it is a majority institution that is nearly 40 percent African American. If you go back to 1959, there were no African Americans attending that university,” says Smallwood.

Smallwood says McCain’s legacy is being celebrated by students and staff at A&T State University. A memorial service  will take place on campus Thursday, from 10 a.m. until noon at Harrison Auditorium.

McCain's funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Friendship Baptist Church in Charlotte.