The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday January 31st

Q&A with junior Taylor McCain, granddaughter of Greensboro Four participant

In 1960, Franklin McCain, one of the Greensboro Four, saw an issue with racial segregation and did something about it by hosting a sit-in in an all-white diner. More than half a century later, his granddaughter, UNC junior Taylor McCain, is taking his lead to pursue racial equality by working with Communiversity, a community-building youth program sponsored by the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. 

Daily Tar Heel Staff Writer Sarah Kaylan Butler sat down with Taylor McCain to discuss her grandfather's impact today, the need for the Stone Center on campus and race relations in 2015. 

The Daily Tar Heel: How does the Stone Center allow you to carry on your grandfather’s legacy? 

Taylor McCain: Well, the Stone Center has a lot of programs that come out of it that focus on the community — not just African Americans or minorities, in general. It focuses on the community. The programs they put out like Communiversity allow us to give back to the community and it also motivates us to want to get involved, even through the art galleries that they have. A lot of the art that they bring to UNC is a form a form of expression for how people feel. That’s the way the Stone Center gives back, and they don’t just focus on academics — they focus on culture enrichment and being grounded as an individual. 

DTH: What do you think your grandfather’s goal was by sitting at a white-only lunch table in 1960? 

TM: I think his goal was to desegregate. That was the primary goal. He wanted all races to come together, all ethnicities to come together. I think that he was disappointed in the way that America was treating people who weren’t white. And so he really just wanted to bring a sense of community to our nation because they were split for so long during that time. And he didn’t want to just do it for himself — he wanted to do it for others. He also wanted to show that it doesn’t take violence — he wanted to be an example of the non-violent protests. He wanted to show that you didn’t have to be aggressive or be physical with people in order to get what you want. So that was his main thing and that’s why he chose a sit-in rather than, you know, fighting physically with the oppressors. 

DTH: What is your goal working with Communiversity? 

TM: My goal is to empower. I think people get easily discouraged when they don’t see change right away. Some people feel powerless and I want to empower people to feel like they have the resources, they have the knowledge and the talents to make a change in society. I want to help them uncover that and to see the issue, educate them about the issue and make it happen and make change happen. 

DTH: What do you think your grandfather would say about Communiversity? 

TM: Oh, he would be so happy. I mean, he was a teenage basically when he did some rights movements. So I mean, this is something he would like. As a child, he recognized the issues that were going on around him and in his society so he would just be elated that there is a group of people or a center that wants to help children to be knowledgeable of everything that’s going on around them and wants to immerse them in activities that show them that they are smart — that they can be an asset to our world. 

DTH: What do you think he would be doing now in 2015 to strive for racial equality? 

TM: Well, he was very active with the (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund, and he was very active with the school system, he and my grandmother. He was a little bit older then, but I do believe that he would use what he had done in the past and use it to talk to people and to motivate them. He would kind of like bring it back to how what he did back in 1960 relates to what can be done in 2015. He would work with all age students. 

DTH: What are you doing to push students toward racial equality? 

TM: I’m going to continue to be committed to my work. I’m going to continue to educate people about what’s going on because I think that’s where the problem comes in. Because when people just don’t know what’s going on because maybe it doesn’t relate to them or it’s not right there in their faces. So I have to continue to educate. I have to also make sure that I continue to be passionate about what I’m doing so that they’ll see there are a lot of things that can be done in order to get there. It takes steps and patience. I think that’s the main thing about when you’re wanting to see something happen you need to relax, be patient, and educate. And be includive because we want to reach a larger crowd. We don’t want to just reach one race or one ethnic group. We need everyone to come together in order to get what needs to be done. 

DTH: What does your grandfather's legacy mean to your family? 

TM: It means everything. We really looked up to him. Though we never really talked about the sit-in movements, his presence is very important in our family. His words and what he would say was very relevant. He was a very smart man. He knew everything — we looked to him for everything. (He’s) been an example and he set the bar high for our whole family because we want to be models of his work. But we’ve all taken a different approach to it. We’re not just all saying ‘Okay, well let’s just all be a part of rallies or work with children. That’s not for everybody. Some of us are working with college students, you know? We’re taking our own approach to it, but his presence is very important to our family. And we’re just so blessed and thankful to have such an advocate in our family so that he could model the way for what we’re doing now. 

DTH: Why do you think the Stone Center important to campus? 

TM: The Stone Center holds a lot of diversity and culture enrichment, and I think there needs to be a presence like that on this campus. The Center can reach out to all populations and it’s important to have that diverse aspect there where people can come together and be with one another with the same mindset and same goals. It’s an important space for people not only color, but of all backgrounds.

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