Hundreds in Charlotte said goodbye Friday to Franklin McCain, civil rights leader from North Carolina and a member of the Greensboro Four.
Among those who offered tributes at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was retired Army General Joseph McNeill who was one of the Greensboro Four who sat in with McCain.
"Others may have done it, but we were happy just to do our part," He said. We were team players and it came out alright."
The Reverend Jesse Jackson who attended North Carolina A and T with McCain he credits McCain with building what has become the new South.
"This new America we now celebrate. All Americans who can vote and all Americans can eat where we choose, and go to school where we choose. All of this comes through the portals led by Franklin McCain," Jackson said.
According to a statement from North Carolina A&T State University, McCain died on January 9, after a brief illness at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro.
McCain, who was born in Union County, attended North Carolina A&T State University. He is best known for his involvement with the sit-ins.
On Feb. 1, 1960, McCain sat down at a whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth's on Elm Street. He was accompanied by three other A&T students Ezell Blair Jr. (Jibreel Khazan), Joseph McNeil and David Richmond.
The Greensboro Four's actions started a nationwide movement. According to N.C. A&T, on Feb. 2, 1960, 25 students from A&T and other Greensboro schools joined them. Over the following 10 days, the movement gained momentum across North
Carolina. Before the end of that month demonstrations took place in at least 250 major cities across the country.
"The Aggie family mourns the loss of Dr. Franklin McCain. His contributions to this university, the city of Greensboro and the nation as a civil rights leader is without measure. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of Aggies and friends throughout the world," said Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.
Regarding the sit-ins, McCain once said, "One or two things was gonna happen to me.I was going to jail for a long time or I was gonna have my head split open in a pine box. That was it those were the only two options."
He also said that sitting down at that counter brought a feeling of empowerment, " "I never felt that good when I had my first son born or married my wife. I've had nothing to top that feeling. In fact I felt invincible.
McCain was a member of The North Carolina University system's Board of Governors. He has held several leadership positions, including serving as chair of A&T's Board of Trustees and has received numerous awards for his service.
"The death of civil rights leader Franklin McCain is a tremendous loss for North Carolina and our country. As a young student in 1960, Franklin's courage to sit at a lunch counter where he was not welcomed helped spark a movement that changed the course of our history," U.S. Senator Kay Hagan said Friday.
"Franklin was an inspiration to me, and I am deeply saddened by the loss of a man Chip and I were honored to call a friend. Our thoughts, prayers and sincere condolences are with his family at this difficult time."
In 2010, He told WBTV that recognition brings responsibility. " This is an open end unpaid mortgage that I'll pay on the rest of my life."
McCain's funeral was held at 2 p.m. at Friendship Baptist Church 3400 Beatties Ford Road.