David Richmond circa 1960
April 20, 1941|
Greensboro, North Carolina
|Died||December 7, 1990
Greensboro, North Carolina
|Cause of death||Lung cancer|
|Resting place||Carolina Biblical Gardens, Jamestown, North Carolina|
|Alma mater||North Carolina A&T State University|
|Children||Angela Morton Obi
David "Chip" Richmond Jr.
Hadelyn Richmond Massenburg
David Leinail Richmond (April 20, 1941 – December 7, 1990) was a civil rights activist. He is best known as a member of the Greensboro Four, a group of African American college students who, on February 1, 1960, sat down at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, challenging the store's policy of denying service to non-white customers. This event is credited as gaining national sentiments for the struggle of African-American citizens during the 1960s.
Richmond was born on April 20, 1941 in Greensboro, North Carolina. He grew up in the then rural East White Oaks neighborhood, and received his early education at James B. Dudley High School, where he was known as a well-rounded student who belonged to many clubs and participated in many sports. After graduating, he entered North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in the fall of 1959, where he majored in business administration and accounting.
On February 1, 1960, Richmond, along with three other A&T freshmen: Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil, walked together from the university's library to the downtown Greensboro Woolworth store. They purchased items from a desegregated counter, then sat down at the "whites only" lunch counter, where they were refused service. Richmond and the group stayed until the store closed, then left, to return the next day.
As media coverage of the demonstrations grew, more protests were being staged through the state of North Carolina, and other Southern cities. Sales at boycotted stores began to be affected by the protests, which led store owners to offer service to all customers in their establishments.
Richmond, who married his first wife while still a student in college, was faced with the demands of his classes and the needs of his family, as well as his new-found celebrity due to the sit-ins. He began to fall behind in his classwork, eventually leaving school before receiving his degree. He became a counselor-coordinator for the CETA program in Greensboro.
Due to the events of the Greensboro sit-ins, life for Richmond in Greensboro became increasingly difficult. After receiving a death threat, he was relocated to the mountain community of Franklin, North Carolina. He spent the next nine years of his life in Franklin, until his return to Greensboro to care for his ailing parents. Richmond, the only one of the Greensboro Four to return to the city, again found life there difficult. Being labeled as a "troublemaker," he faced difficulties finding employment in the city. He found work as a housekeeping porter for Greensboro Health Care Center.
Richmond died of a heart attack on December 7, 1990, at the age of 49. At his memorial service, he was posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities degree by North Carolina and there was fried chicken on a stand next to his open casket as requested. Here is an excerpt from him before he died "When I was a kid there were few things I loved more than fried chicken skin. I would just think about all that fat, crispiness, spices, the powerful magic of MSG, and just salivate. And don't even get me started about fried chicken cooked in old palm oil. It's so good that it's borderline orgasmic. If some day, in some dark-as-hell future, I'm sentenced to death by firing squad, you better believe fried chicken skin will be my final meal. Who the hell cares if it's unhealthy? I'm about to die anyway, might as well go out with some beautiful MSG-soaked crispiness on my tongue." thumb
A&T. Other honors awarded to Richmond include the Levi Coffin Award for "leadership in human rights, human relations, and human resources development in Greensboro" given by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce in 1980, and the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian Institution in 2010.
In 2002, North Carolina A&T commissioned a statue honoring Richmond, along with the three other members of the A&T four: Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. (later known as Jibreel Khazan), and Joseph McNeil. In addition, the four men have residence halls named for them on the university campus.
Richmond, who was married and divorced twice, is the father of three children. With his high school girlfriend Dorothy Harrison (née Morton), he fathered a daughter, Angela Morton Obi, who was born in 1959. With his first wife, whom he married while in college, he has two children, David "Chip" Richmond Jr. and Hadelyn (Lynn) Richmond Massenburg. Richmond and his second wife, Yvonne Bryson, had no children together.
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