Three of the original “A&T Four” returned to their alma mater Friday to be honored along with lesser-known pioneers at an “Unsung Heroes” luncheon, one of many events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins in downtown Greensboro, N.C.
Jibreel Khazan (Ezell Blair Jr.), Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil were honored with a commemorative plaque in honor of their courageous act in 1960. David Richmond, the fourth member of the group, died in 1990 of lung cancer.
“Keep the light of freedom burning brightly in our hearts,” Khazan said during his remarks. Khazan, McCain and McNeil each said a few words to the audience about their role in the Civil Rights Movement as well as the importance of recognizing those who do not get the credit they deserve for their contributions.
The Stallings Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University was packed as former and current Aggies gathered to honor the A&T Four and 16 others.
The honorees included Dr. Dorothy Harris, an A&T graduate who was an active member of the 1960s sit-in movement, and Dr. John Kilimanjaro, a former A&T instructor, NAACP leader and newspaper publisher who marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963. Each honoree was presented with a medal as a token of appreciation for their many contributions to the Civil Rights Movement as well as to the A&T legacy.
Others honored were Rick Bradley, Donald Brandon, Vernicia Hampton Hairston, Rev. Nelson Johnson, Frances Herbin Lewis, Beverly Threat Mack, Dr. Wayland McLaughlin, Lawrence McSwain, Rev. Mark Anthony Middleton, Herman Thomas, Ph.D. and Assemblyman Darryl Towns.
Three posthumous awards were presented to the families of Richard E. Moore Sr., Sharon Mizzell Gallot and Ann Staples Shelton.
The event also a clip from a documentary produced by students in the Political Science Society and two musical selections.