Updated 02/01/2013 03:37 PM
NC A&T celebrates 53rd anniversary of Woolworth sit-in
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GREENSBORO - North Carolina A&T State University celebrated a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, Friday. On February 1, 1960, four African-American students sat down at the whites-only lunch counter at the Woolworth store on South Elm Street, which sparked a wave of protests across the south.
Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. and the late David Richmond were only freshman, but they were poised as they sat down at the counter and were determined to desegregate it.
"I think we on that first day probably didn't see the potential as big as it was,” said Joseph McNeil. “But from a personal perspective it was an important day for us."
Blair, who took the name Jibreel Khazan in the late 60s, calls it a blessing to be remembered at the anniversary. He hoped young people would emulate the positive things the four did and develop good character.
"That whole scenario, the involvement with the civil rights movement was to like to throw us into the fire of life like you do metal and temper us and see what will come of us after this," said Khazan.
Students at the annual breakfast said they recognized the Greensboro Four's courage and the sit-in's historical significance.
"It's a strong gesture,” said senior Reginald Johnson. “It think that it took courage but I also think that it took divine favor in the sense of being prepared for something like that."
Fifty-three years later, Franklin McCain looked at February 1, 1960 as a continuing challenge to society and individuals.
"You hope that they begin to recognize why February 1st happened and why more February Firsts are necessary in the society we live in," he said.