Greensboro, NC -- 50 years ago, four North Carolina A&T State University students walked into Greensboro's Woolworth's store.
They bought toiletries and school supplies, then made their way to the all-white lunch counter.
The four were denied service, but they remained seated.
Their sit-in helped revitalize the civil rights movement.
But who were those four young men?
"Throughout the south, life was not very good," said original sit-in participant Franklin McCain. "Your color pretty much directed your whole life."
Franklin McCain, David Richmond, Ezell Blair, Jr. and Joseph McNeil were all freshmen at A&T in 1960.
McCain was born in Union County and grew up in Washington, DC.
Ezell Blair, now known as Jibreel Khazan, and David Richmond are both Greensboro natives and Dudley High School graduates.
And Joseph McNeil came to A&T from Wilmington.
"If you want to make change, you have to do it yourself," said McCain.
Each had experiences with how society treated them.
They knew of the Little Rock 9, who integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957, and Rosa Parks starting a bus boycott in 1955.
"I know all of them had heard Dr. King speak. they had studied Ghandi. They knew that the sit-ins would work, this type of action because the non-violence movement had worked in Montgomery. David knew about the incidents in Montgomery first hand. We had a cousin that was a minister in Montgomery at the time Dr. King was leading the boycotts there that was initiated by Rosa Parks," said Frank Richmond, brother of original sit-in participant David Richmond.
"The idea wasn't new. It was an old idea. We still don't understand to this day why it caught on in Greensboro, you know. Because Mrs. Parks had sit down long ago," said Jibreel Khazan at the 30th anniversary of the sit-in.
Each of the four brought his own ideals to the table.
"We came with precepts, concepts and notions about how this society ought to be anyway, and how it ought to treat people. And we recognized the dichotomy of treatment, long before we came to A&T college at that time," said McCain.
"We had progressive leadership, responsible leadership, and we set the tone for the passiveness that existed throughout our movement. Non-violence was our motto," said original sit-in participant David Richmond at the 30th anniversary of the sit-in.
On my brother's memorial, the words read- these are his words, 'love leads to freedom.' love leads to freedom. love breaks down all kinds of barriers," said Frank Richmond.
Franklin McCain earned a Bachelor's of Science degree from A&T in 1964. He worked as a chemist for a Charlotte company beginning in 1965.
Joseph McNeil spent six years in the US Air force and earned a rank of Captain. Following retirement from the armed services, he worked in computer sales, as a commercial banker and as a stockbroker.
Jibreel Khazan attended law school at Howard University. He works with developmentally disabled people in Massachusetts.
WFMY News 2