Krista McNallyFeb 28, 2018, 7:47 pmMar 1, 2018, 4:02 pm

Hempstead native honored for helping halt racial inequality in the south

‘Greensboro Four’ member Major General Joseph A. McNeil took part in sit-in protests during the Civil Rights Movement


HEMPSTEAD — A street sign and building have been dedicated to a Long Island civil rights activist who helped bring racial equality to the south over a half a century ago.

"In 1960, at a lunch counter in North Carolina at Woolworth, he refused to get up because he was not getting served. It began the sit-in movement, a big part of the civil rights effort and he was the start of it and remains a big part of it today,” Mayor Don Ryan said.

Major General Joseph A. McNeil was part of the original "Greensboro Four" and is responsible for several nonviolent sit-in protests. He says on that day he was feeling anger, pride, intense emotion, and faith in what he was standing up for. It began a lifetime of fighting for civil rights.

"We never expected it to be easy,” McNeil said. “Once we got the law passed, the legislative part of the picture, now we have got to get the part of the picture where we win hearts and minds and think about living harmoniously with each other," General McNeil said.

In his hometown of Hempstead, a street sign now bears his name. Along with the street sign, an elementary school is now named after McNeil as well. He says students are the way of the future and the best way to lead them is to get out of the way.

"I think we all better to listen to them and get the hell out of the way. They have the benefit of all the education we are experiencing in life now," he said.

Family, friends, and elected officials all joined for the dedication ceremonies to honor a man that paved the way for countless others.

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