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Franklin McCain

Franklin McCain
Franklin McCain Circa 1960
McCain circa 1960
Born(1941-01-03)January 3, 1941
DiedJanuary 9, 2014(2014-01-09) (aged 73)
Resting placeOaklawn Cemetery, Charlotte, North Carolina
Alma materNorth Carolina A&T State University
Known forStaging a sit-in at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina to protest the store's policy, which refused to serve African American customers.
Home townWashington, D.C.
Spouse(s)Bettye Davis McCain (m. 1965 - w. 2013)
ChildrenFranklin McCain Jr.
Wendell McCain
W. Bertrand McCain
Parent(s)Mattie McCain
Warner McCain

Franklin Eugene McCain (January 3, 1941 – January 9, 2014) was an American civil rights activist and member of the Greensboro Four. McCain, along with fellow North Carolina A&T State University students Ezell Blair Jr., Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, staged a sit-in protest at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February 1, 1960.[1] Their actions were credited with launching the Greensboro sit-ins which successfully brought about the reversal of Woolworth's policy of racial segregation in their southern stores, and increased national sentiment to the fight of African-Americans in the south.[2][3]

Early life and education

McCain was born in Union County, North Carolina, on January 3, 1941.[4] He attended James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro for one year, but moved with his family to Northeast, Washington, D.C..[3][4] McCain graduated from Eastern High School in Washington D.C. in 1959.[3] In the fall of 1959, McCain enrolled at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. It was during his freshmen year that he joined three other freshmen to stage the Greensboro sit-ins at Woolworth's in February 1960.[4]

In 1964, McCain graduated from North Carolina A&T with bachelor's degrees in both biology and chemistry.[4] He later earned his Master of Arts degree from A&T and also studied and trained at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, Princeton University in New Jersey, Farr Associates in Greensboro and American Management Association in New York City.[5]

Later life and death

The A&T Four Statue on the campus of North Carolina A&T. (From Left: David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, and Joseph McNeil

After graduating from North Carolina A&T, McCain moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he worked at the Celanese Corporation, a chemical manufacturer, where he built upon his career for 35 years.[4] McCain also served as a member of the boards of trustees for both North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central Universities; as well as the Board of Visitors of Bennett College; and the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.[4]

On January 9, 2014, McCain died from respiratory complications at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina, six days after his 73rd birthday.[2] McCain's death left Ezell Blair (now Jibreel Khazan) and Joseph McNeil as the two surviving members of the Greensboro Four. David Richmond, the fourth member and McCain's freshman college roommate, died in 1990.[4]

Personal life

McCain was married to his wife Bettye Davis McCain, from 1965 until her death in 2013. The two had three sons: Franklin Jr., Wendell, and W. Bertrand McCain.[4] He was also a member of Sigma Pi Phi, the oldest African-American Greek-lettered organization.


The section of the lunch counter where McCain and his fellow protesters sat is now preserved at the National Museum of American History.[4] In 2002, North Carolina A&T commissioned a monument to be created in honor of McCain and the three other members of the Greensboro Four. The sculpture named February One was unveiled during the 42nd anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-ins.[6] In addition to the monument, the four men each have residence halls named for them on the university campus.[7]

Franklin McCain's grandson, Franklin III, is the starting quarterback for North Carolina A&T, Franklin Sr.’s alma mater.


  1. ^ Memmot, Mark (2014-01-10). "Franklin McCain, One Of 'Greensboro Four,' Dies". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  2. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (2014-01-10). "Franklin McCain, Who Fought for Rights at All-White Lunch Counter, Dies at 73". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  3. ^ a b c Langer, Emily (2014-01-13). "Franklin McCain, who helped inspire sit-ins for civil rights as part of Greensboro Four, dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Franklin McCain, one of 'the Greensboro Four,' dies". Winston-Salem Journal. 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  5. ^ "The A&T Four: February 1st, 1960". The F.D. Bluford Library • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  6. ^ "N.C. A&T Remembers 'Greensboro Four' With New Statue". Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  7. ^ "A&T History". The F.D. Bluford Library • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Retrieved 20 June 2014.