Dr. Franklin Eugene McCain - A Legacy of Courage 1941-2014

A Legacy of Courage

On Feb. 1, 1960, Dr. Franklin E. McCain Sr., Ezell Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Joseph McNeil and David Richmond (A&T Four), helped orchestrate and lead the sit-in movement that began at the segregated lunch counter of the F.W. Woolworth store in downtown Greensboro. This single act of courage spread to cities throughout the country.

McCain’s courage did not end that day. He continued to demonstrate his commitment to social justice and equality through his years of service in communities throughout North Carolina and the nation.

He served as chairman of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and vice chairman of the Fighting Back Against Drugs/Alcohol. He was known for his tireless commitment to education and served as a member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors; chair of the N.C. A&T’s Board of Trustees; member of the N.C. Central University Board of Trustees, Bennett College Board of Visitors and various boards in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County public schools.

On behalf of North Carolina A&T State University, its students, faculty, staff and alumni, we pay tribute to his legacy of courage.

Dr. Franklin McCain Dr. Franklin McCain at the 50th February One Celebration
“There are things that you are uniquely suited for and no one else can do those things as well as you. In a lot of cases those things are obvious and in some cases you have to seek what those qualities are and you are required to act on them so that they impact other people positively." 

Franklin E. McCain Sr. 

Memorial Service

To attend Dr. McCain’s memorial service RSVP online. The event is open to the public. General parking is available in the Laurel Street Parking Deck, 126 Laurel Street. Shuttle service will be provide.

Thursday, January 16
10 a.m. – noon (doors open at 8:30 a.m.)
Harrison Auditorium, N.C. A&T State University
502 Nocho Street, Greensboro, NC 27411

*The Academic Classroom building, room 101, will be used for overflow
seating. The building is located off Benbow Road on Bluford Circle. 

The memorial service will stream live.

In Lieu of Flowers

The McCain Family requests that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to the The McCain Family Scholarship. Make checks payable to North Carolina A&T State University, Office of Development Operations, 1601 E. Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27411. For more information, call (336) 433-5560.

Funeral Arrangements

The funeral service for Dr. McCain will be held Friday, January 17. Visitation is from noon – 2 p.m.  Funeral service begins at 2 p.m.

Alexander Funeral Home
1424 Statesville Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28206

Friendship Missionary Baptist Church
3400 Beatties Ford Road
Charlotte, NC 28216

Oaklawn Park Cemetery
1615 Oaklawn Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28216

Share Your Memory

In celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Franklin E. McCain Sr., we encourage you to share your memories.

More about Dr. McCain

Dr. Franklin E. McCain Sr. was born January 3, 1941, in Union County, N.C., and raised in Washington, D.C. where he graduated from Eastern High School. He entered A&T College as a freshman in 1959 and graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry. 

He went on to earn a master’s degree from A&T, studied polymer chemistry/fiber science at N.C. State University, earned a certificate in management science at Princeton University and received training in executive development at Farr Associates and motivational management at American Management Association. He­­ – along with the other A&T Four – later received an honorary doctorate of humanities from A&T. 

McCain married Bettye Davis, a Bennett College alumna, who also participated in the sit-in demonstrations. They had three sons, Franklin Jr., Wendell and Bertrand, and lived in Charlotte, N.C. 

In 1965, McCain joined the Celanese Corporation in Charlotte as a chemist, and  worked nearly 35 years. He held numerous positions within the company from technical and marketing/sales, development chemist to division executive. 

McCain remained extremely active in the community while holding memberships in the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the Bond Campaign for Mecklenburg County, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, board of visitors at Bennett College for Women, and board of trustees at N.C. Central University. He served as chair of A&T’s board of trustees, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and was an elder at Memorial Presbyterian Church.

He is the recipient of the many awards and honors including the U.S. Congressional Citation Award; N.C.’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award ; NAACP Achievement Award; and a proclamation and historic marker from the City of Greensboro.

“We are honored to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Franklin E. McCain Sr. He was a man of great principle and enormous courage.”- Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.
“Franklin (McCain) was an inspirational role model and became a dear personal friend. What I think people should remember most about Franklin is that his courage and commitment to doing what was right didn’t end at Woolworth. That commitment continued throughout his life, and he channeled it in ways that really mattered, particularly in his service and devotion to our University and to higher education. North Carolina has lost a true giant.”- President Tom Ross, University of North Carolina