RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — 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.
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,” McCain said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press, 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.”
McCain, Joseph McNeil, David Richmond and Ezell Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan) planned their surprise action carefully. They bought school supplies and toiletries so that their receipts would offer proof that the lunch counter was the only part of the store where racial segregation still ruled.