Dr. Joseph McNeil, of Hempstead, honored for making history as one of 'Greensboro Four'

Dr. Joseph McNeil, of Hempstead, was one of the so-called Greensboro Four.

Dr. Joseph McNeil, of Hempstead, was one of the so-called Greensboro Four. (2/22/14)

UNIONDALE - A Long Island man who made a brave decision to take a stand for civil rights was honored today for his part in the history-making moment.

Dr. Joseph McNeil, of Hempstead, was one of the so-called Greensboro Four, who staged a peaceful act of defiance that helped turn the tide in the fight for civil rights.

On Feb. 1, 1960, in Greensboro, N.C., McNeil was among four African-American students who were denied service at a whites-only lunch counter at a Woolworth Five and Dime store. They refused to leave and staged a sit-in. Their defiance highlighted the indignities of Southern segregated culture.

"More than fear, there was anger," McNeil recalls. "Anger in part of the protesters for having to endure years of segregation and Jim Crow and second-class citizenship."

Ten years after the peaceful protest, McNeil and his family settled in the Village of Hempstead.

Today, McNeil was honored by the historic Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, which operates under the motto, "Manly deeds, scholarship and love for all mankind." McNeil received the group's Trailblazer Award at its 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Black History Month luncheon, held in Uniondale.

McNeil says there is still more work to be done, particularly on issues like poverty and education.

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