General Joseph McNeil


General Josteph McNeilGreensboro, N.C., Feb. 1, 1960. Four young men walked into their local Woolworth’s department store and sat at the lunch counter. They ordered a cup of coffee and piece of apple pie. The waitress told them they’d have to stand at another part of the counter since the section that the young men were in was designated for white people only. The men became known as the Greensboro Four and they starting a sit-in that spanned several months and began what turned out to be a lasting contribution to the civil rights movement.

From this historic protest at one counter in a Woolworth in Greensboro, North Carolina; their cause grew across the United States. The group that started with 4 students grew to 75,000 students who participated in staged demonstrations in 54 cities across the South. This group became known as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Martin Luther King, Jr. called the sit-ins a “turning point” in civil rights history. General McNeil went on to have a distinguished career within the Air Force branch of the United States military. He has received major awards and decorations during his time of service including the Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal with Silver Star just to name a few.

Click below for the reproduced podcast from General McNeil's presentation.

Joseph McNeil

Christopher Benson

Christopher BensonChristopher Benson, Associate Professor of African American Studies, and Journalism at the University of Illinois. Chris is co-author with Mamie Till-Mobley of her memoir Death of Innocence: The Hate Crime That Changed America, the bestseller about the life and death of Mrs. Mobley’s son, Emmett Till, and the history-making changes that followed.

Death of Innocence is the winner of the 2004 BlackBoard Nonfiction Book of the Year Award and the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition. Chris has done numerous television, radio and print interviews, and has been quoted extensively on the significance of Mamie Till-Mobley’s contribution to the modern civil rights movement.

At the University of Illinois, Chris teaches African American Studies courses on hate crimes and on race and the press (with a special examination of Emmett Till coverage). In Journalism, he also teaches magazine writing, with an emphasis on literary techniques (theme, character, voice, conflict, resolution).

We invite you to listen as he shares his thoughts about working with Mamie Till-Mobley to bring to light the true story of a hate crime that changed America.

Click below to listen to the podcast from Christopher Benson

Christopher Benson