FILE - In a Feb. 1, 1980 file photo, former North Carolina A & T students, left to right, Joseph McNeill, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan, sit at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their historic sit-in. The four were not served in 1960 but their action launched the sit-in movement in more than nine states. (AP Photo/Bob Jordan, File)
Updated: February 12, 2014 6:15AM
RALEIGH, N.C. — Franklin McCain, who helped spark a movement of nonviolent sit-in protests across the South by occupying a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, has died, his son said Friday. He was 73.
Mr. McCain died of respiratory complications late Thursday, Frank McCain of Greensboro said Friday.
Franklin McCain was one of four freshmen students from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro who sat down at the local “whites only” lunch counter on Feb. 1, 1960.
“The best feeling of my life,” Mr. McCain said in a 2010 interview, was “sitting on that dumb stool.”
“I felt so relieved,” he added. “I felt so at peace and so self-accepted at that very moment. Nothing has ever happened to me since then that topped that good feeling of being clean and fully accepted and feeling proud of me.”
Mr. McCain, Joseph McNeil, David Richmond and Ezell Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan) planned their action carefully.
The young men stayed until the store closed, but returned the next day and subsequent days. They were joined by more protesters, whose numbers built to at least 1,000 by the fifth day. Within weeks, sit-ins launched in more than 50 cities in nine states. The Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro was desegregated within six months. AP