Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Family Announced the Heartbreaking News
His death was confirmed by his family in Greensboro, North Carolina, on January 9. They said that he had been battling an illness for a short time. His oldest son, Franklin Junior, released a statement saying:
Our Daddy was a man who deeply loved his family and cherished his friends. We will forever treasure the wonderful memories that we have and be thankful for all that he did for us and for his fellow man.
His is survived by his three sons, Franklin Jr., Wendell and Bert as well as six grandchildren.
2. He Helped to Start the Sit-In Protest Movement
May God forever bless this man. Rest in peace Franklin McCain. pic.twitter.com/1oZwdjFAdT
— Madame M (@TheASMLife) January 10, 2014
As a college student in North Carolina, McCain and three of his friends were denied service at a Woolworth’s lunch counter. The four refused to leave and the following day their protest was joined by hundreds of supporters. His partners in his historic action were Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan) and the late David Richmond.
3. His Place in American History is Assured
— Anastasia Cifuentes (@cifuentestweet) January 10, 2014
The lunch counter is now displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
4. He Was a North Carolina Native
McCain was born in Union County, North Carolina in 1942 but was raised in Washington D.C. He returned to his native state to attned college at North Carolina A&T State University where he graduated with a degree in chemistry and biology. McCain went on to work for 35 years for the Celanese Corporation in Greensboro, North Carolina but civil rights remained his passion.
5. He Had Lost His Wife in 2013
His wife, Bettye Davis whom he met at college, died in January 2013. His wife was also a prominent civil rights activist and was at her husband’s side throughout his life fighting the good fight.