US

Civil rights sit-in pioneer McCain dies at 73, joined 3 others to desegregate lunch counters

  • FILE - In a  Feb. 1, 1980 file photo, former North Carolina A & T students, left to right, Joseph McNeill, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan, sit at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their historic sit-in. The four were not served in 1960 but their action launched  the sit-in movement in more than nine states.  (AP Photo/Bob Jordan, File)

    FILE - In a Feb. 1, 1980 file photo, former North Carolina A & T students, left to right, Joseph McNeill, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Jibreel Khazan, sit at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their historic sit-in. The four were not served in 1960 but their action launched the sit-in movement in more than nine states. (AP Photo/Bob Jordan, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2010 file photo, Franklin McCain speaks during the AFL-CIO conference in Greensboro, N.C. McCain, who helped spark a movement of nonviolent sit-in protests across the South by occupying a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, died  late Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 in North Carolina, according to his son, Frank McCain of Greensboro. He was 73. (AP Photo/Lynn Hey, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2010 file photo, Franklin McCain speaks during the AFL-CIO conference in Greensboro, N.C. McCain, who helped spark a movement of nonviolent sit-in protests across the South by occupying a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, died late Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 in North Carolina, according to his son, Frank McCain of Greensboro. He was 73. (AP Photo/Lynn Hey, File)  (The Associated Press)

Franklin McCain, who helped spark a movement of nonviolent, sit-in protests across the South by occupying a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in 1960, has died in North Carolina. He was 73.

McCain's son Frank McCain of Greensboro said Friday he died of respiratory complications late Thursday.

Franklin McCain was one of four freshmen students from North Carolina A&T State University who sat down at the "whites only" lunch counter on Feb. 1, 1960.

McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond returned the following days with other protesters growing to at least 1,000 by the fifth day. Within weeks, sit-ins launched in more than 50 cities in nine states. The Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro was desegregated within six months.

McCain became a research chemist. Richmond died in 1990.