Black History Month Cape Fear Stories: Joseph McNeil

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Born and raised in Wilmington, Joseph McNeil graduated from Williston High School before becoming a key figure in a very important part of the American Civil Rights era.

McNeil went to college at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro.

In February 1960, McNeil and 3 other freshman helped change history when they went to Woolworth’s, sat down in the white’s only section of the segregated lunch counter and were denied service.

Their refusal to leave launched sit-ins, protests and boycotts that helped tackle head on the issue of segregation.

After college McNeil went on to a decorated career in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves.

He retired with the rank of Major General.

Today McNeil remains a symbol of determination in the face of adversity. He and the other members of the Greensboro Four are honored with a statue and buildings named after them on the campus of NC A&T.

McNeil has also received several honorary degrees, including one from UNC Wilmington.

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