Fifty-eight years ago, four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University refused to leave their seats at a lunch counter in a segregated Woolworth department store in Greensboro.
Joseph McNeil and Jibreel Khazan, formerly known as Ezell Blair, Jr. are the two surviving members of the Greensboro Four.
They were honored at a breakfast at their alma mater on the day of the anniversary.
McNeil said he remembers going to his classmates on the eve of February 1 and asking for their help.
“We're 17 years old but we know that if we don't take on some of these things on—in life, stand and divide, unjust laws—when will it happen,” he said.
The event sparked a sit-in movement that spread to other southern cities during the summer of 1960. The Greensboro Woolworth was desegregated in July of that year.
A gala put on by the by the International Civil Rights Center and Museum will also celebrate the 58th anniversary of the Greensboro Four. This year it’s called “Bridging the Movements.”
McNeil said people today shouldn't settle for discrimination.
“We represent an event that proved to have a dramatic impact on the life of our country,” he said. “We are [who we are] today because of protests and other people giving of themselves and their lives.”
The other two members of the Greensboro Four, Franklin McCain and David Richmond died in 2014 and 1990 respectively.
McNeil said they need honor those who gave their lives for the Civil Rights movement.
“We know that what we do every year keeps their thoughts alive,” he said. “But we need to think of it more rather than a once a year event.”
The gala is set for this Saturday at 6 p.m.