The annual 54th Sit-in Anniversary Celebration, commemorating four A&T freshmen who pioneered a national civil rights movement in 1960, will be held at North Carolina A&T State University on Friday, Jan. 31. In honor of the A&T Four, U.S. Congresswoman Eva M. Clayton will be presented with this year’s Human Rights Medal. The celebration will begin at 6:30 a.m. in the Alumni-Foundation Events Center.

It has been 54 years since four N.C. A&T students—Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair (now Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond and Franklin McCain—sat down at the whites only lunch counter at F.W. Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C. Their efforts gained national support and attention, which persuaded local and national changes to segregation laws.  On July 25, 1960, F. W. Woolworth served three African-American employees at its newly integrated lunch counter. Four years later Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed segregation of public facilities. 

Clayton, the 2014 Human Rights Medal recipient, will be the guest speaker for the program. Clayton was the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress from the state of North Carolina and served as the U.S. Representative of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District for 10 years.

While in office, Clayton served on the Agriculture and Budget Committees and as ranking member of the Agriculture Department’s Operation Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry Subcommittees. She also chaired the Congressional Black Caucus. Clayton now leads a consultant firm, Eva Clayton Associates International Inc.

The two surviving members of the A&T Four, McNeil and Khazan will be in attendance along with a host of North Carolina A&T students, faculty, staff, and administrators and Greensboro community members. The winning essays of the Guilford Country Schools Sit-In essay competition will be read at the program.

At 9 a.m. guests will march to the February One Monument near the Dudley building for the laying of the memorial wreath. Following the laying of the wreath, McNeil and Khazan will speak with students and guests from 9:30-10:45 a.m. in Harrison Auditorium for a “Conversation with the A&T Four.”