WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A dedication ceremony for Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil Commemorative Way was held on Saturday, Oct. 12.
The ceremony began at 10 a.m. in the Thalian Hall parking lot located at 102 N. 3rd St. A reception followed the event in the Thalian Hall lobby.
In September, the Wilmington City Council vote to designate 3rd Street, from Market Street to Davis Street, in honor of McNeil, a Wilmington native and civil rights pioneer.
McNeil was one of four African American college students who, in 1960, sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter. It was a bold and defiant challenge to the store’s policy that denied service to non-white customers.
McNeil and three other freshmen at A&T State University gained national attention Feb. 1, 1960, following the lunch counter protest. The group, now known as the Greensboro Four, was instrumental in having the segregated laws of the nation changed so that African Americans could sit down and eat at lunch counters and any other public places.
“General McNeil played a major role in the civil rights movement and we are so proud to call him a Wilmingtonian,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said in August. “Honoring him with a street designation in our downtown will remind people of the great sacrifice and contribution that he made.”
McNeil is a graduate of Williston Senior High School and A&T State University in Greensboro. He currently resides in New York.