tv Reel America The Story of the Greensboro Four CSPAN July 30, 2020 9:04pm-10:03pm EDT
>> thank you. friday night on american history tv beginning at eight eastern, living historians from our american artifact series, physician jack moody portrays a world war ii u.s. army battalion surgeon at the annual army heritage days and carlile, pennsylvania. doctor modi's medical tent was set up as a 101st airborne battalion aid station. a local emergency room that would have been located close to the front lines. watch american history tv, friday night and over the weekend on c-span three. on february 1st, 1960, for college students that down to eat at a woodworth's lunch counter in greensboro, north carolina. joined by a black and white allies, they enjoyed harassment and threats, but the citizens continued for months. next, on real america, february one, the story of the greensboro for. extension interviews with three of the four students.
archival footage are included in the award winning film from 2003, which documents the nonviolent protest that quickly lead to similar citizens throughout the south and helped energize the civil rights movements of the 1960s. we have the right to protest. this is a nonviolent movement. -- resistance. >> from the busboy cart in
montgomery, alabama 1960, virtually nothing happened in the arena of civil rights. it was dead. absolutely dead. even martha luke earth do even martha luther king said that. >> in 1960, things to change dramatically, in greensboro. it is the origin of all of those events that occurred subsequent to february 1st, 1960. i happened to be there. mcneill happen to be there. when you hear a railroad, the train is coming from far away and it's coming closer. you become increasingly aware of the tracks of the trains.
that track is what divides white from black. that is what separates the white ghetto from the black ghetto. it is the track that heads somewhere, but you don't know exactly where and it's not really for the good of society. the four sits in walked across that track in the wrong direction. they crossed the track. they went to the other side. ♪ ♪ ♪ the greensboro
liked to think itself as polite, moderate, open to points of view. greensboro is a town that does not like a lot of controversy. life was great on my side of town. >> greensboro was somewhat typical. greensboro was like every other city in the south. hello we were more focused on our day today, with kind of a carefree atmosphere where life was pretty straightforward.
♪ ♪ in greensboro, north carolina, he was born on the eve of the second world war. >> before i was two months old, my father was on his way to fort dickson, new jersey, to fight the war as an army engineer. before my mother met my father, she came from a tradition a very spiritual people and blues people. >> at that time, he was small, but he would always do things differently. he really embraced people very easily. they loved him. anything that he would do was right. >> after the end of world war ii, jebrel i's >> my mother
said he changed. when you came back from the war. everything was peaceful, but the guy i saw when i was four or five years old back in 1945, he was a different guy. he was big, he was huge. i was kind of trembling. here comes a giant. he has come back to return. my mom, my sister and great great grandmother. >> he was also unnerved by the boy that had grown up in his absence. >> my father wanted him to be an architect or some kind of engineer. when he was a kid, he had this little doll. he decided that he would become a ventriloquist. nobody in my community with think about becoming a ventriloquist. >> often, in the family, there were challenges from dad about, boy, don't you want to go out
and get a real job? and you are playing with the stall? >> my father, he was aggressive. he had determination that he was going to do something in his life to make life better for himself, his family, and his neighbors. then, he began to talk about the an a acp. the national association for colored people. he became one of the early members in greensboro. >> our family, at dinnertime, it was roundtable discussion. there was much dialog and when he would come home there were things that would happen to him at school. and in the workplace, things that were unfair. he talked about how he handled those things. >> throughout the 19 fifties, the blair children were being challenged to look beyond the comfortable -- of their community. >> segregation had ills and
some advantages. we had a community that was extremely bonded. we had our own businesses and our own part of town. we had our own doctors. we had our own lawyers. in many ways, it was really hard to see yourself as this little child who has nothing because you had a world that had been created for you. but what was lacking is interaction on a regular basis with people who were outside egg. >> the greensboro authorities did not see themselves in the same light as the burning him -- they thought of themselves as conducting their race relations in a way that was more
civilized. >> when our parents told us was true, and they told us, these are the rules. you do not act out verbally or physically in the presence of other people. in the case of white people, do not do anything to incite them to want to harm you or your family or your friends. your mouth can either bring you to glory, or it can bring you to hell. big when i was about nine years old, the ku klux klan dog came to the community and they put out a message. we will catch the black people on the street at night. we will burn across in front of their house. >> what is clue clicks clan? is it people who wear white robes and wear white sheets and burn crosses and hang in king
kill people. >> hell! let me get in the house before seeing that. what time is it? 3:00. don't worry. i have four or five hours to get myself ready. i'm not going on the streets at night. my father said, nobody is coming to hurt my family. he said don't you worry sun. he then he spoke to my other sisters. he said nobody is going to harm our family. oh i'm he enrolled at deadly high, an all-black school in a segregated system. in these halls, he became good friends with a new student. franklin mccain who had recently arrived from out of town. >> i let mccain at deadly high school -- we had serious discussions. he had a great personality. he was six for, handsome guy. ladies like him.
>> i met easel in deadly high school. he hasn't changed very much. he's still the guy who walks around and oblivious to a whole lot of other stuff that most of us see and internalize. >> frank mccain had been raised in a moral -- city of washington, d.c., where the jim crow laws had been repealed earlier in the 19 fifties. what he encountered in greensboro infuriated him. >> it did not make me any less angry, that's for sure. in fact, i was probably a lot more angry than my parents, grandparents and all the other generations combined. i didn't hate anybody, but i thought their system had betrayed me. >> in their junior chemistry class, he befriended david richard, the most popular student in deadly high school. >> when he and i were on the track team, davie richmond and i --
his record stood there for about eight or nine years. he was like superman to me. >> dave richmond knew the true meaning of friendship. tough times and good times and laughing times and crying times. >> martin luther king came to greensboro in 1958 and spoke at bennett college. among those in the overflow crowd were job real and david richmond. >> my father was a leader here. he took david and myself. dr. king was so profound in his message. it made me feel proud to be a black american. david never took a back seat any longer. we got on the bus. we would sit behind the driver. if someone would say anything, we ignored it. in many cases, no one would say anything. it was just a matter of
stepping out and challenging the system. >> by the late 19 fifties, the dissenting voices -- the rapid spread of television brought images of oppression and conflict from around the world into the american living room. >> as kids, we were the first initiators of black television. i liked the news. i liked history. i had this documentary of gandhi. i was glued to the tv set. i couldn't believe it. a little skinny brown skinned guy out of india with a diaper wrapped around him -- and teachers of jesus christ. then i began to realize, since i was only about 186 pounds,
hey, maybe i could do something like that as well. he showed us what could happen if we broke the code. he made a negative remark to a caucasian lady. we spoke our turn, we could dial like emmett to. i remember seeing the picture when they pulled him out of the river. they let it be seen on television that time. they showed him in his casket. i will never forget that. that was chilling. bone chilling, man. >> that send me some messages. i never felt -- i felt suicidal at the age of 14. i concluded rather quickly, if that is all that this life has to offer, then it's not worth living. >> in the fall of 1959, israel,
frank and david in ruled in an all-black college of north carolina a and tee. >> my father said you have to attend the college where i went. >> oh mom and dad. do i really have to? i wanted to get away. >> he was assigned a room with joe mcneill. -- his adolescents in new york city. >> by virtue of them living together, i had the occasion to meet you. the first thing was that joe is not your typical freshman male student. by and large, his conversation was not about people, about things. it was more of ideals. >> i sensed my family was very proud family and arrogant
family. in a way we used to say, we may be poor, but we are proud. which would say that the pants might be torn, but they are clean. >> joe mcneill was cute when he was a freshman. there was some new york background and anytime you are a girl from the south and a guy comes to town and he is from new york city, even if it just came for the summer, this was really great. >> joseph mcneill would walk the campus with his head high. his major was engineering physics. this guy was like einstein. he had a photographic memory. he was quoting shakespeare, plato, aristotle. i with the addition of joe
mcneil, the tight knit group now numbered for. they quickly became inseparable. >> for extremely different people who come together in a wonderful chemistry that bond them into a solid unit. >> we nurtured each other that would just was not available to a lot of people. i don't think it happens too often, or four people think a lot alike about the same subjects. in fact, we got to the point where we could tell almost what each other was thinking. >> we began to share our classes together. then we would meet in dormitories at night to have our discussions. >> it was during the storm room sessions that the four friends first considerate the public attack on students for segregation. >> we did not trust anybody over anything. we said, they've had a lifetime,
two lifetimes to do something. and they've gone and screwed it up. >> these are young guys who came of age at the time of the brown decision. they were very much aware of what was going on in the way of racism. they knew things were supposed to change but not changing. now they had to figure out what they were going to do about it. >> joe started talking about revolutionary thinks. he said we need to do something, man. i'm sick and tired of going downtown and we can't get served. >> the dormitory sessions intensified. you just have to get up and do things. >> the guy who was kind of a calming force -- that was david richmond. in the heat of the battle, one of his greatest strength was to just ask you questions. >> we talked about it from september one, from orientation week, up until after the
christmas holidays when we came back. >> after returning from a christmas break to visit his parents in new york, joe mcneill was denied service at the greyhound bus station. for joe, this was the breaking point. >> it was a degrading experience. three hours ago, i was a human being with all access and all capabilities to go to any restaurant that shrank from any water fountain to do that. now three hours later, i am treated as if i am some type of pariah. >> joe comes back very distraught. he says, all right! we've got to really do something, man. we've been talking. enough is enough. so frank and david came on the
scene. we began to talk with him. it went back and forth. the conversation for the next couple weeks. >> it was very difficult. i it was a hang stinking ordeal. but finally, frank mccain said, let's do it! >> i think it was exhausting probably more than anything else. it was a way of saying, look, let's stop talking about it and let's start to do something. i >> there was a dare. cho put a dare to frank. i are you chicken? are you chicken? then frank responded. no, man. i ain't chicken. dave richmond -- he put his finger on your chest. like that.
>> he said, you, grasshopper, are you chicken? >> david said, no, man. i ain't chicken. then he said, you, are you chicken? >> i said i don't think i can go right. now i've got to many things to do. >> he said no. we will vote on it. this is a democratic right. is everybody in favor? raise your hands. >> and you raise your hand. >> but there was another vote to be cast. for jebreel, parental consent was essential. >> on that night, they came out to the house, and he said, we are going to do something tomorrow. this was on sunday night. he said we really do something tomorrow that will shake up the nation. >> i said shake up the nation? what are you talking about? >> i was like, yeah, you guys
we are ready to take a serious step. you realize that what you are doing is going to affect all of your families, your friends, your community? are you ready for that? you guys better watch your mouths. your body language. because the way you act, it's how people perceive you. >> next afternoon, the four friends gathered in front of the library on the campus. >> i was in a cloak and hat. suit and tie. frank mccain didn't have time to change so he wore his air force blew. joe war has italian coke. he was dressed to kill. david of course had his leather cap on, and he was dressed
immaculately. >> i had anxiety. meng's i.t. was the unknown. i just assumed we would be thrown in jail. the one thing i was certain of is that we were not coming back. >> from the time we left the library until we reached downtown, we were somber silent. i think we were all reflecting on what we were about to do, and trying to step ahead of time and project what was going to happen. >> it was like, this is so dumb. we were like the four musketeers going to our destiny. >> when we walked into the store, we --
we make sure to get receipts. >> we mauled around in the store, just trying to get some fix on where we were and what we were about to do. >> i was so heavy from anxiety. i didn't want to get too high on. me i felt my temperature increase. i could feel my collar sweat coming out the side of my face. >> we looked at each other and both of us looked at the counter at the same time. >> we just started to walk towards the counter, without a single word. that is how it happened. we took our seats.
♪ ♪ almost intense daintiest lee, after sitting down on that simple, dumb stool, i felt so relieved, so clean. i felt as though i had gained a little bit of my manhood on a simple act. joe and i looked at each other without saying a word. not a word. and it was -- maybe 40 seconds later which seemed like a lifetime, that the people behind the counter acknowledged that we were sitting. the waitress approached us. what do you boys want?
>> we said we'd like to be served please. >> you boys know we do not serve colored people here. why don't you all get up and she pointed her finger. law over there. >> we disagree with you. we've got receipts to prove that. we've got all these things here. i just want to be served here. >> i'm trying to keep myself composed. meanwhile, i feel my legs are shaking. out came discolored lady and she says, what do you boys want? >> we would like to be served, please. >> she said, i'm going to say this to you. you'll need to leave and go back to that campus because you are starting trouble. it's people like you that make our race look bad. you got that? >> i used to wonder why could
not sit and eat meals. it felt like, i'm not good enough to sit at the counter and be served. i was good enough to work and prepare the food for others, but i could not sit there and have a meal. it was kind of hard to take. >> the waitress left and she sent out this tall caucasian man which we found out was the manager, mr. harris. he said, i don't know who sent you boys but i pride myself on having a good store. i don't want any trouble. we could see the man was worried. he had a frown on his face. he did not know what to do. meanwhile, some of the caucasian people were getting up and leaving. look he >> shortly after, we noticed a policeman comes into the store. he is as read as your shirt when he sees us sitting at the counter. he took his night stick out and
i said to myself, you know, i think this is it. i could almost feel his breath. he was breathing fire. >> one of the officers started to take his club and had it in his hand. that was perhaps unsettling, to say the least. >> meanwhile, tension is going full speed now. sweat is pouring down like water like a river. >> i can imagine what he was thinking. i know what i want to do, but i have no justification for doing it yet. i have not been provoked. then i said to myself, oh, he does not know what to do. he is frustrated. >> mccain and i were sitting at the lunch counter and an elderly white lady comes and sits next to mccain, and starts
a conversation about being disappointed at us. mccain inquires, madam, why are you disappointed in us? >> she relates that she is disappointed because it took us so long to do what is that we are doing. >> to hear someone say that from when you least expect it, it was quite rewarding. it was quite common. it was quite reassuring. doug >> when that was observed by other folks in the store, there was not much noise, anyway. people had stopped talking. it was quiet. it was more like a church service. he was truly frustrated. so he finally goes back to the corner and leans up against the wall. and he is, like my god, won't these guys please leave and get out of my life. i remember, that is the
expression he had. a short time leader, it was announced that the store was going to close early. >> the police were there. they did not arrest us. we were shocked. they closed the store and we said we would be back. >> i felt relieved. i felt a great weight had been taken off my shoulders. we had witnessed between ourselves, a great transformation. >> david richmond said, if i would do anything else in my life, this is it. this is the peak of my life. i think i've done my greatest job. >> people would take on a religion to try and get that -- >> that is what he was trying to do all the time. here is where i was 18 years old, having a feeling of total
freedom. total acceptance. i am asking myself, what do i do for an encore? it's all downhill from here? >> on the sidewalk outside will worth, a reporter from the greensboro -- the reporter had been contacted by a local civil rights activist and friend of joint nails. >> the reporter asked us where were we coming back the next day. we said yes, we are coming back the next day. >> he said do you have backup? we said short. but we had no backup at all. we went back to campus that evening. >> we need to get some help. and the way to get help -- joe and i concluded wish to some in those people on our campus who had leadership positions. we went to the deadly building. that is where the meeting would be. when we started that little session with all of those leaders. we spent 90% of the meeting trying to convince them that this was not a hoax.
in principle, most agreed that they would help us. i can confirm that it was -- because the second day, they did not come. before the students arrived, people gathered among them -- newspaper reporters, -- it seemed from the presence of the media and force that someone did an excellent job forgetting covers for the second day. -- the will worth manager. >> i do remember the cameras coming in the second day. they were in shock and disbelief as well. i think they did not believe we were coming back. one >> one of the most important things about what greensboro represents, is it happens a point when television
news it's becoming a major institution, and for significant periods, what is going on in the south with black people becomes a steeple of television news. black people recognize that this show is your show. this show is our show. we are the ones who are now creating news in the society. >> i saw the coverage on television. it actually had taken over the news. every channel in the classes and hallways at my school, everything was like mass pandemonium. >> by now, everyone in and around greensboro had learned of the protest. people on both sides of the issue spent that evening preparing to join the fray. >> very next day and north carolina, students were sitting in. >> i'd opening our, 9:30 am, many people were assembled at
the front door. there was a mass scramble for seats. the media coverage had its effect. i knew that hundreds of people would be involved. will worths was in the middle lane like the middle lane of the three lane will highway. i knew then the eventual result -- will worth would serve, but it would have to be when the fury subsided. >> about day three, we started to get the opposition to come in. what they wanted to do is take seats and give them to other white people who wanted to come in and have lunch. >> you see people turning red in the face. they would say the n-word. segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever! >> people begun to stand up and show their true feelings once
they got over the shock factor. here, people were coming in upsetting our world. >> it was chaotic. you had the black community on the one side, and you had all of the white youngsters from outlying areas coming downtown to intimidate them. they just got tough. he had somebody taunting you, you will fight back. we were afraid that we would have an all out black white war right there in front of will warts. >> they were astonished at the fact that we had been an out there and do it effectively and take all that crap. >> that was very important for them to adopt the kind of non resistance, non violence that they had as they sat there, opened their books and studied and refused to respond to incitement or provocation. >> one of the major issues was,
you will treat me as a human being with dignity. i will sit here until you decide you have to treat me in that way. >> america was being taught how human beings are meant to deal with each other. >> it was also on the national news at that time. there were cameras coming to town. buses coming into greensboro. >> on that third day, winston salem also decides to sit in as well. the next day, a few other counties. >> things were more tense. the chance for the women's college arranged a meeting for the parties involved. it was clear that will worth could expect no cooperation from the college officials for students. the folks were at a virtual
standstill. mr. harris, will worth manager. >> we had a president who is very liberal and understand that i remember she did not come forward and say girls, you need to go. which she said was to what your conscious tells you to do. so several of us went down and just served as observers. >> we had the female students from greensboro, college and a couple of the folks who showed in extraordinary acts of courage. because the abuse that was heaped on them for participating was extremely high. >> when made a threat to me. i had a lot of difficulty just being quiet and doing as the students had been directed to do, and that was to be peaceful and not react to threats and so forth. that was very hard for me. as a matter of fact, after a
while, i was told by some friends to leave because i was very quite angry. i was especially proud -- the white students from a woman's college came. when >> the three of us walked in, these people who are occupying stools so that no anti-students could get their turn around and saw us and said, of course thinking, we were going to join them, do you want to sit down? and the three of us took our seats at the counter. when the waitress came up to us and asked what we wanted we said, i think there is somebody here ahead of us. at that moment, the cat, so to speak, was out of the bag. so we sat there for hours with things getting more and more hostile. more and more charged. it seems that a lot of the students who were there were football players. they were big guys. the story closed at 5:30. by about 5:00, they had somehow
started making moves to leave and made a circle around my friends and myself. they walked us of aisles with all of this mob of people yelling and cheering and carrying on. got us out to the sidewalk. one of the most moving moments in my entire life was the fact that we stood and they said the lords prayer in the middle of the circle. then somebody had called a taxicab. they put the three of us in the back of the cab and that is how he got back to campus. >> one of the college women on the scene at will worth was betty davis. she had recently become friends with frank mccain. >> i was probably quiet and he had come from washington, d.c., where women were little bit different. i had gone to some private school and just thought that i had to be a lady all the time. i was going to do that.
>> i finally said to her, i like. you are nice person, but i just don't have time to do what guys my age do. you are either with me or you are on the other side someplace. so she saw fit to bring her hips downtown and demonstrate. i look up and who do i see? there is betty. and someone who had never dreamed that they would be downtown demonstrating. >> more people came. people in the store was more mostly observers and not customers. where greensboro had been both a leader in profits, selling merchandise was now hardly possible. >> the tension was high. i would say roughly, they were at least 300 students downtown. this was a dangerous thing.
nobody knew how it was going to go. nobody wanted to get sent home. >> my parents were going to be a little shocked. you did what? you know, we sent you to that school to get an education, but you are choosing to do what? and that is in the newspapers? you might be going to jail? >> and if we went to jail or dropped out of school, the next step is we would be indoctrinated or inducted by the united states army. >> that anxiety was most acute for david richmond who had recently become a father. >> a lot of things were forced on david's life at a very early age. he was 18 or 19 years of age. he is involved with us. he's got a son. he has a marriage. he has a job. and he has school.
>> meanwhile, the students were becoming keenly aware of the movement they had launched. >> i get a sense that 35 or 47 cities were involved. >> this thing caught on like wildfire, much more than i had ever imagined or any of the other three had imagined as well. opening our, all seats were occupied. 1000 people were out will words filling up the aisles, all watching to see what would take place. mr. harris, the low worth manager. >> i do remember huge numbers. it had been captured on film,
and you could see the tension in the air. >> it was not as though we were immune to the things that caused people to join the violence. i fully expected violence. yes, indeed. >> by this time, the protest had spread to lunch counters across department stores, bringing downtown greensboro to a virtual standstill. >> quite honestly, i just wished it would go away, because my business was suffering. most people felt the same way. just stay out of downtown. unless you had urgent business. >> i was in crests that morning. we had occupied all the spaces at the lunch counter. there was a lot of heckling coming from the other side. i missed all of the shouting and the noise. all of a sudden, there was just quietness, and when we turned to look, at the top of the stairs where the football team in their jackets. as they descended the steps,
things got very very quiet. i remember the manager declaring this place was closed. >> meanwhile, at will worths, the crowd became more hostile. >> it's one caucasian guy came up and he saw this big football player and said hey, the n-word, i will kick your butt. all of a sudden, this football player gave him an elbow. bam. i said oh, things are getting tight. then there's the city council are saying, no, you boys need to cool this down. there is going to be a race explosion. >> at 1:09 pm, an urgent request to the manager was relate to answer the phone. a caller stated that there was a bomb set to explode at 1:30 pm and hung up. i was asked, what are we going to do? to which i answered, let us
close up. clearly harris, will worth manager. >> around 1:00 that they, the manager said we are closing the store! there is a bomb threat. everybody leave and go home. >> i've seen these girls running up the steps. some of them are crying. she came to the kitchen and she said, come on you have to come out of here. i said what is going on? >> she said it is a bomb threat. i threw things down and i went down those steps. mr. harris was up there looking out the window. i said to myself, well if it is a bomb, he is up there looking out the window. >> finally the stores were closed and the students began to snake dance back to campus across the street. it's all over! it's all over!
it's all over! to >> that saturday, the moratorium was called. you are trying to give the city officials an opportunity to work things out. that did not occur. we went back into the stores and we occupied the counters at kress and will worth. we refused to leave the area and we were each arrested for trespassing. >> the protest continue through the spring, and when the college students left for summer recess, deadly high school students took their place. finally, on july 26, 1960, after nearly a half year of protests and negotiations, the store manager mr. harris
decided to integrate will worths lunch counter. >> i think he realized when the school -- when the students came back to school, he knew he had to do this. he did it over the summer. >> this really took off in greensboro. from the first day, to this 22nd, day to the 36 they, to the 104th day. then you've got the press, tv cameras there. then within two months, you've got 54 cities in nine different states and everyone covering this. within six months, you've got a four-page segment in the new york times that is doing nothing but talking about civil rights demonstrations every day. >> that leads up to young people in these towns, cities, asking themselves, what kind of role should they be playing and which is obviously a great drama that is beginning to open up in the society.
>> that simple act of sitting down and it turned out to be the catalyst that ignited a decade of -- the students discovered the power of action protest. their energy and example spread quickly through the cities of nashville, atlanta and throughout the south. as one protester put it, that dime store was the birthplace birthplace of a whirlwind. >> would february 1st did is provide a new language, the space, the opportunity for a generation to come alive. when that generation came alive, the movement was transformed and everything else fell into place behind that new movement. big. ♪ ♪ >> that was the beginning
of the end of downtown, because the department stores left downtown and moved out to the suburbs. >> we had moved our communities to malls and strip malls. this downtown should be the center of attention and the heart of greensboro. >> i think greensboro is divided. greensboro has a history of racism that is so institutionalized that sometimes it is very difficult for us to see that. >> the deterioration, if you want to call it that, of downtown, was that sign of the times that went along with building shopping centers of that sort. there was also some effect of media effect that went on as a result of these marches and so forth. mayfair cafeteria for example, went out of business. >> by 1964, the greensboro men were facing life after college.
one by one, they began meeting in greensboro. but david richmond state behind. >> david richmond was probably the gentle east of the four. he had a tendency to quietly weep inside. he was treated like dirt immediately after the law -- here in greensboro. one employer after the next would very quickly find out he was one of those four troublemakers back in 1960. he had difficulty -- in fact it was almost impossible to get a job. >> david richmond is now a softspoken janitor at a greensboro nursing home. >> the fact that they were involved and were so visible and were the leaders of this. it really set them up to be targets for the communities discussed. >> they had a negative impact -- >> yes. what kind?
how? >> i would prefer not to talk about it, but if you can't stand the heat, don't go near the fire. i am happy. i can live with the abuse. >> where is that abuse coming from? is it coming from the black or white community? >> i don't know. we were labeled radicals. big i haven't lived out that image yet. >> he was even threatened. his life was threatened. that had an impact on him. >> i remember being at a restaurant with him. he had tears rolling down his cheek. in a conversation that we were having, and the waitress, she came up and said excuse me, but is everything all right? and he looked at her and said, not really. everything is all right in here, thank you.
but it's out there where everything is not all right. >> he had two marriages that had failed, and those took a toll on him and he turned to alcohol. >> he began to show the wear and tear on his mental self and physical self. then he started talking about how he was nobody. i knew something was wrong with david. this is not the david richmond i knew. he was saying i'm nobody. everybody somebody. i'm nobody. no david. don't say that, man. david, please. come with me and match the two sets. i can get you a job there, man. he said no, i cannot go. he said my parents are sick. i have to stay with my parents. with that, that was the last time i really talked to him about greensboro. >> on december seven, 1990, david richmond died in greensboro. >> david's memorial reads love
leads to freedom. love knows no color. love knows no inequality. it knows only equality. it knows no injustices. it knows only justice. >> a true believer as one who will just absolutely give up his life for a cause. you don't need -- i think i know three of them. i've met three in the slife, and david is one of them. >> looking back now, if you had to do it all over again, which you? >> definitely. big i feel pretty good about it. i accomplished one thing in my life. and i'm proud of it. kvetch
(applause) >> this is a proud moment for us. it is a proud moment for greensboro. it is a proud moment for america and the world. we are thankful that for a and tea freshman sat down 42 years ago so that we may stand today. . i >> on february 1st, 2002, the three surviving students and the children of david richmond where in greensboro for the dedication of the february one monument of the a&t campus. the man who were all accompanied by children and grandchildren were nearing 60 years of age. frank mccain had recently retired to concentrate on
volunteer work. mcneill had stepped down after achieving rank of major general in the air force reserves. >> what i think of, sculptors and monuments, the ones that really have impacted me in the past are the ones like the vietnam memorial. when i go to that one, i have tears in my eyes, because i know it is more than just -- that represents those who have lost their lives and gone in harm's way. the four a&t freshman were ordinary people. there were lots of ordinary people who made this thing work. >> february 1st, in terms of concept, it was personal. there is some good things that came out of it, that meant something to the world at large, and it happened that there were some good things for other
folks. but it was really personal. it was personal for franklin, blair, richmond, and joseph mcneill. it was about our dignity. that's what we were trying to get. we did not go down to a worth to save the world. >> we all felt something happened to us that day. that was when i saw the real courage of my friends. and you can see this and all of them today. no matter where we go for me, there's the greatest human beings in the place of the earth. we believed in magic and they performed magic out there. law.
next, an oral history interview with esther terry, who talks about participating in the 1960s lunch in sending protest while a student had been at college in greensboro, north carolina. decades later, she served as president of bennett college in 2012 and 2013. this interview is part of it oral history project on the civil rights movement initiated by congress in 2009. conducted by the smithsonian national museum of african americ