For immediate release: Feb. 08, 2007
For further information contact:
Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig
Joseph McNeil, Member of the Greensboro Four, Featured Guest at Judiciary Black History Month Program
Retired Air Force Reserve Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil will be the guest speaker for a Black History Month presentation on Feb. 13, today announced Acting Administrative Director Judge Philip S. Carchman. The event will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the atrium of the R.J. Hughes Justice Complex, 25 Market St., Trenton. McNeil will share his experiences as a leader and catalyst for non-violent student protests during the civil rights movement. He will be introduced by Chief Justice James R. Zazzali.
"As a member of the Greensboro Four, Mr. McNeil helped launch the sit-in movement that hastened the demise of segregation and sped the passage of two critical pieces of legislation: the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act," said Judge Carchman. "We are delighted that he has agreed to share his remarkable story with us."
As freshmen at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, McNeil and three of his friends asked for service at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. on Feb. 1, 1960. Upon being refused service, the four students remained at the counter for the remaining hours of business. The next day they returned with more students and resumed their sit-in. Their peaceful protest attracted national media attention and inspired students around the country to hold sit-ins at segregated businesses. In the North, students picketed chain stores whose southern locations enforced segregation.
Joseph McNeil's peaceful protest was inspired by the writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. McNeil's strategic bravery aided the progress of the civil rights movement, and inspired citizens throughout the nation.
Born in Wilmington, N.C., McNeil graduated from Williston Senior High School and earned a degree in engineering physics from North Carolina A&T in 1963. Shortly after graduation, McNeil was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force and attained the rank of captain after six years. His work in the Air Force included several diversity initiatives aimed at changing the culture of that institution. After leaving the Air Force, McNeil served in the Air Force Reserve while building a career in sales and, later, finance.