Commentary

February 14, 2014

Retired Reservist was at center of the Civil Rights movement.

Tags:
Sean Dath
452 AWW public affairs

As a young college student in 1960, McNeil (far left) and three of his friends staged a protest at a lunch counter inside a Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C. They refused to move when they were told the facility did not serve blacks. Their protest quickly spread to lunch counters in 54 cities in nine states.

On February 1, 1960, four black students who were enrolled at the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina, sat down at a “Whites Only” lunch counter at a Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C. and propelled themselves into the center of the Civil Rights movement that was sweeping through the southern United States.

One of those four young men was retired Air Force Reserve Maj. Gen. Joseph A. McNeil who was a 17-year-old Air Force ROTC student at the time. He, along with fellow freshmen Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond, seated themselves at the counter and asked for coffee. When service was denied, the four men refused to move and began their protest of segregation laws that were prominent in the south at the time.

“As a teenager, I was fed up, fed up with being forced to live a second-class citizenship,” McNeil recalled in an interview during a visit to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 2012. “There comes a time when a man must act. Talking has its place, but there’s a time for action, also.”

Over the next five days, the “Greensboro Four” as they came to be known, returned to the lunch counter and were eventually joined by more than 300 students, sparking national media coverage which brought increasing attention to the fight for equality.

Within a few weeks, the movement had spread to more than 50 cities in 13 states as people from various racial backgrounds joined the protest against segregation, not only at lunch counters, but in a number of establishments throughout the country. By the end of July, 1960, Woolworth’s had begun integrating its lunch counter.

In addition to paving the way for the Civil Rights Act, McNeil’s experience helped shape him as a man.

“Not only was it the catalyst for significant, major legislation sometime later, but it was also important in terms of developing my personal character, who I am and what I believe in,” he said.

McNeil graduated in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics, was commissioned as a second lieutenant and became a navigator on the KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling/cargo aircraft. He served during the Vietnam War before joining the Air Force Reserve in 1969.

While serving as a traditional reservist for 31 years, McNeil also held a civilian job position as the assistant division manager of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Eastern Region Flight Standards division and manager of the New York Flight Standards district office. McNeil retired from the Reserve after holding the position as the mobilization assistant to the commander, Air Force Reserve Command, in 2000.

During the celebration of African American History Month, Team March asks that you join in a salute to a true American hero, Joseph A. McNeil.

(Reference for this article from: http://www.citamn.afrc.af.mil/features/story.asp?id=123377568)




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Increased mission requirements open doors for continued military service

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to meet increased mission requirements outlined in the fiscal year 2016 President’s Budget. In order to enhance operational and mission capacity in support of combatant commanders, and to maintain readiness, the Air Force is setting a minimum active-duty force level of 317,000...
 
 

Armed Forces Day honors all military

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department — the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to...
 
 
Wells_Photo

From the desk of the 452 AMW Inspector General

Col. Ray Danowski, Inspector General I am Col. Ray Danowski, 452nd Air Mobility Wing Inspector General, and Maj. Evert Wells, is my deputy IG. We are here to handle your complaints resolution needs. We are also responsible for ...
 

 
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Airman Cynthia Innocenti

March firefighters support local communities

U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Airman Cynthia Innocenti Engineer Jeremy Gerrish (left) and Fire Capt. Frank Hanson, March Air Reserve Base Fire Protection Flight, were part of a strike team (five engines and one fire chie...
 
 

May is Asian American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) — In 1978, Congress established Asian-Pacific American Heritage Week to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans to U.S. history and culture. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush extended the celebration to the entire month. On Oct. 23, 1992, Congress officially designated May of each...
 
 
Mothers-Day-page-12

I will always be their mom, she will always be mine

My mother is an amazing woman. As a single mother, she raised three children providing my older brother, younger sister and me with everything we needed to become decent adults, able to contribute something worthwhile to societ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin