This monument commemorates the actions of the four students who started the Greensboro Sit-In on February 1st, 1960. The bronze statue depicts Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and David Richmond. These four men attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University and were later given the nickname “the A&T Four. The protest not only led to the integration of the local Woolworth’s, it inspired civil rights sit-ins throughout the South. The monument is located outside of Dudley Hall and was built as a result of the efforts of students and alumni under the leadership of university chancellor James Renick. Renick first proposed the idea for the monument in 2001 and the bronze monument was unveiled and dedicated on February 1st, 2002.
On February 1st, Woolworth employees denied service to the four young men and asked to leave. However, the protest did not end there. The next morning, twenty-nine male and female Agricultural and Technical students sat at the Woolworth's lunch counter. The demonstration continued for the rest of the week, encouraging other students from other universities to actively protest racial segregation. By Saturday, fifteen hundred students came to protest at the Greensboro Woolworth's store. The following week, protestors engaged at sit-ins Woolworth's stores in Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Durham.
Although the protesters remained nonviolent, they were often met with violent responses. For example, one white man who saw black student protesters sitting at the counter at Woolworth’s lit one of their jacket tails on fire. Unlike many of the men and women who harassed the protesters, this man was arrested for his violent actions. In the first days of most of the sit-ins that occurred throughout the South, few of the protesters were arrested. Over time, and as more white residents launched counter-protests, police began arresting the protesters. For example, forty-one black students in a picket line in Raleigh were arrested for trespassing.
Although most diners and stores in Greensboro and other Southern communities remained segregated in 1960, the protests led to a wave of stores and lunch counters changing their policy. The Greensboro Woolworth ended their policy of segregation a few weeks after the A&T Four began their protest. Within months, hundreds of lunch counters and stores announced plans to serve all customers equally. By 1963, sit-ins at hundreds of restaurants and stores, along with Freedom Rides, petitions, and other demonstrations, had led to meetings between city leaders and members of the black community. Through direct action and negotiation by civil rights leaders with store owners and city officials, thousands of stores announced plans to end their discriminatory policies. For the rest, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination in places of public accommodation.