Civil Rights and Non-Violence


The Greensboro Four

The Greensboro Four sitting at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1990, drinking coffee.
The Greensboro Four sitting at the Woolworth's lunch counter in 1990.
(L to R) Joe McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. (Jibreel Khazan), Franklin McCain and David Richmond.
Photo courtesy Greensboro News and Record

Meet the members of the Greensboro Four.

Joseph McNeil

A Wilmington, North Carolina native, McNeil moved with his family to New York after graduating high school. He soon returned the Carolinas to attend North Carolina A&T State University on a full scholarship, but found it difficult to live in the segregated South. As seen in FEBRUARY ONE, McNeil’s frustration came to a head after returning to North Carolina from New York after Christmas vacation, and was refused service at the bus terminal in Greensboro. This event led him and his friends to stage the sit-in at Woolworth’s. McNeil earned a degree in engineering physics from A&T in 1963. Thirty minutes after graduating, he was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force and spent six years as an officer and attained the rank of captain. During his tenure in the Air Force, he started a series of diversity programs and also worked in computer sales for IBM, as a commercial banker for Bankers Trust in New York City and as a stock broker for E.F. Hutton in Fayetteville, NC. He recently retired from Air Force Reserves, having achieved the rank of Major General, and now resides in Hempstead, NY with his wife Ina, with whom he has five children.

Jibreel Khazan (formerly Ezell Blair, Jr.)

Born Ezell Blair, Jr., in Greensboro, NC, Khazan received a B.S. in sociology from North Carolina A&T State University in 1963. While a student at A&T, he was president of the junior class, the student government association, the campus NAACP and the Greensboro Congress for Racial Equality. He attended law school at Howard University and found it difficult to get a job in Greensboro because of his reputation as being one of the Greensboro Four. In 1965, Khazan moved to New Bedford, MA. Three years later, he became a member of the New England Islamic Center and took on his present name. Khazan now works with developmentally disabled people in New Bedford, and has also worked with the AFL/CIO Trade Council in Boston and at the Opportunities Industrialization Center and at the Rodman Job Corps Center. He and his wife Lorraine have three children, one of whom graduated from A&T.

Franklin McCain

McCain was raised in Washington, D.C. and received a B.S. in chemistry and biology from North Carolina A&T State University in 1964. While he was an A&T student, he roomed with David Richmond, around the corner from Ezell Blair Jr. and Joseph McNeil. After graduating from college, he stayed in Greensboro for graduate school and married Bettye Davis, with whom he had three sons. In 1965, McCain joined the Celanese Corporation in Charlotte, NC as a chemist, and is now retired. As a resident of Charlotte, he has served on many boards and worked towards changes in local educational, civic, spiritual and political life.

David Richmond

Richmond was born in Greensboro and graduated from Dudley High School, where he set the state high jump record on the track team. At North Carolina A&T State University, he majored in business administration and accounting. After leaving A&T, he became a counselor-coordinator for the CETA program in Greensboro. Forced to leave Greensboro because his life was threatened, he lived in the mountain community of Franklin for nine years, returning to Greensboro to take care of his elderly parents. Fighting against the stigma of being one of the Greensboro Four—and therefore labeled as a “troublemaker,” Richmond found it extremely difficult to get employment in Greensboro, finally finding work as a janitor for the Greensboro Health Care Center. In 1980, the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Levi Coffin Award for leadership in human rights. Richmond was married and divorced twice and had three children, but battled many demons, including alcoholism and a sadness that he could not do more to improve the world he in which he lived. He died in Greensboro on December 7, 1990, at the age of 49, and A&T awarded him a posthumous honorary doctorate degree.

Learn more about the Greensboro sit-in >>


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