NC NAACP Statement on the Death of Franklin McCain


January 16, 2014

     We in the NC NAACP family honor Franklin McCain. We are all students of Brother McCain. We believe the question of morality--of the teachings of justice and love from the great scriptures--is always the primary question in our lives and our politics.
     On February 1st, 1960, McCain, along with three other NC A&T students, walked to the Woolworth's store about a mile from the A&T campus, bought some school supplies, put their receipts in their pockets to show they had paid money to the store, and then went to the lunch counter. The young men were not served.  And the rest is history. Sitting in with McCain was Ezell Blair Jr., who is now Jibreel Khazan, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond.  Richmond died in 1990. 

Franklin McCain was not a one-year warrior. After he helped spark a movement to successfully desegregate Woolworth's and businesses across the South, he continued at NC A&T and earned a degree in biology and chemistry. He worked for nearly 35 years for a big chemical company and was active in the civil rights movement until his last breath. He served on the NC A&T Board of Trustees, on Bennett College's Board of Trustees, and on the Board of Governors for the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system.  

     I personally was honored to sit on the stage with him at my alma mater, North Carolina Central University, a few years ago, when my son graduated with a B.S. in science.  The world keeps turning. Every generation has to do it again. So let's memorialize him with our commitment. With our courage. It is the best thing we can do.  

     Like the Hebrew boys of the scriptures, Franklin McCain and his colleagues walked into the fire--the fire of hate, racism, and legalized segregation. They walked in and sat down. But the fire didn't consume them. Instead they transformed the fire. They turned it into the light of freedom. They lit a fire in the hearts of other youth across the nation for justice and freedom. 

     As a freshman, Franklin McCain became a shining example of manhood, hope, and dignity to many well beyond his years. And the continuing truth is that the brilliance of his actions then to challenge and defeat racism continues to light the way for the challenges we must still meet and the justice we must yet secure.  Brother McCain, rest now in the Light of God. 

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

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