Printer-friendly page

Greensboro Four: David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. (Jibreel Khazan), Joe McNeil

Civil Rights Sit-Ins at Woolworth

by Jaime Huaman, Government & Heritage Library, 2010

See also: Greensboro Sit-Ins

David Richmond (from left), Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and Joseph McNeil leave the Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C., where they initiated a lunch-counter sit-in to protest segregation, Feb. 1, 1960. Photo by Jack Moebes/Corbis. On February 1, 1960, David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. (Jibreel Khazan), and Joe McNeil, four African American students from North Carolina A&T State University, staged a sit-in in Greensboro at Woolworth, a popular retail store that was known for refusing to serve African Americans at its lunch counter. Not long after their protest, sit-ins began occurring across the South, including the North Carolina cities of Charlotte, Durham, and Winston-Salem. These young men came to be known as the Greensboro Four.

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities were unconstitutional.  Six years later, the segregation was still present in public places throughout the South. The four seventeen year olds determined that they would enter the store, purchase some school supplies, and then sit down at the lunch counter to eat.  They would argue that if the store would take their money for school supplies then they should serve them at the lunch counter.

When the students sat down at the "white only" counter of Woolworths they were told they would not be served. The police were called, but the Greensboro Four stayed until the store closed that day. The following day, twelve African Americans sat at the counter, and the protest grew.  By February 7th the city was filled with thousands of demonstrators for and against segregation. Bomb threats were received. Counter-protestors opposing racial integration flung insults and water balloons at those demonstrating against segregation.  The Greensboro Four remained calm could be seen sitting at a table in the Woolworth dining area reading Goethe and textbooks. As a result, physical violence did not become a part of the protest.

February One monument at NC A&T State UniversityOn July 26, five and a half months after the sit-in began local businesses agreed to serve African Americans alongside their white patrons. The Greensboro Four lead the way for desegregation in North Carolina. 

As a tribute, a monument of the Greenboro Four has been erected at North Carolina A&T State University.  The Woolworth store closed in 1993 and is now home to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.  A section of the Woolworth's lunch counter with four stools is on view in Washington, D.C. at the National Museum of American History

References and additional resources:

Brown, Nikki L. M., and Barry M. Stentiford. 2008. The Jim Crow encyclopedia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Channing, Steve. 2004. February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four. PBS: Independent Lens series.

Covington, Howard E., and Marion A. Ellis. 2002. The North Carolina century: Tar Heels who made a difference, 1900-2000. Charlotte, N.C.: Levine Museum of the New South.




me 8


me eight


me eight


God bless these heroic men that made this nation great. They are true heroes who fought for freedom in this nation.


I think this four man change a lot rules in America and they are care about civil right and equlity.


Hi, I am a Middle School Student at Mansfield Middle School. I am doing a History Day project on the Greensboro sit-ins and I am looking for email addresses for Joseph McNeil and Ezell Blair so I can contact them about an interview. I hope can help me.


Dear Kolby,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share your comment.  

Unfortunately, NCpedia does not have any additional information about Joseph McNeil or Ezell Blair.  I’ve done a bit of web searching and it appears that Mr. McNeil may now reside in Hemptead, New York.  He is a retired Major General from the U.S. Air Force.  Ezell Blair changed his name at one point to Jibreel Khazan and was residing in New Bedford, MA.  He may still reside there.  

Here are biographies for both from

I would recommend consulting an online phone directory such as the White Pages (or similar).

I hope this helps!  Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions. And good luck with your History Day project!

Best wishes,
Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library


I have a student who is doing a National History Day Project on the Greensboro Sit Ins. we are trying to find contact information for Joseph McNeil and Ezell Blair so that we can write a letter to them to ask about interviewing them. Thank you for your help with this project.


Dear Debora,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and sharing your question. I am replying via the email address you included in your post.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library


Hello Kelly, I am a student in Connecticut doing the same type of project the Greensboro sit-ins. I was wondering of you could share the same information with me so I can conduct and interview.

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at