Lunch counter sit-in participant is presenting his story about the 1960 protest at Woolworth

Franklin McCain is coming to Xavier on Wednesday, Nov. 10 | October 26, 2010

In 1960, Franklin McCain was a college student with big ideas about civil rights and creating social change through non-violent protest. On Feb. 1, he and three other North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College students staged one of the most visible and iconic events of the civil rights movement by sitting down at a "whites only" lunch counter at a Woolworth five-and-dime store in Greensboro, N.C.

Now, 50 years later, McCain is coming to Xavier to share his story. McCain is meeting with Xavier students and the public on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 7:00 p.m. in Room 412 of the Conaton Learning Commons at the corner of Dana Avenue and Ledgewood Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

The lunch counter sit-in reinvigorated the non-violent protest movement, ballooning to 1,000 other sit-ins at other lunch counters across the country. Within two months, similar sit-ins had taken place in 54 cities and nine states.

In a 2008 interview on National Public Radio, McCain said an older white woman was sitting at the lunch counter a few stools down from the four of them. He assumed, as an elderly white woman in 1960 Greensboro, that she disapproved of their actions. But when she finished her doughnut and coffee, she walked behind the men, put her hands on their shoulders and said in a calm voice, " 'Boys, I am so proud of you. I only regret that you didn't do this 10 years ago.' "

From this, McCain said he learned never to stereotype anybody until he speaks with them. “I'm even more cognizant of that today in situations like that, and I'm always open to people who speak differently, who look differently, and who come from different places," he said.