North Carolina A&T State University is set to rename its Middle College after legendary former students known as the “A&T Four.” Learn more in the story by Jessie Pounds at the News & Times below.

From left to right: David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Jibreel Khazan and Joseph McNeil stand in front of the statue commemorating the A&T Four on North Carolina A&T’s campus. (Credit: N.C. A&T University Relations)

The Middle College at N.C. A&T has a new name that honors the students who started the sit-in movement.

The Guilford County Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to rename the school the “A&T Four Middle College at North Carolina A&T State University.”

The board, however, did not take a vote on a prior recommendation to rename the Middle College at Bennett for former county commissioner and civil rights leader Carolyn Coleman. 

According to Wanda Edwards, the district’s director of communications, the naming committee decided not to move forward with the proposal because the district is concerned that the school, which serves females, may not have enough students to open next year. 

The school relies on students applying to attend rather than drawing from an attendance zone. According to Edwards, there has been declining enrollment during the last few years because the Bennett College campus was closed to in-person learning during much of the pandemic.

The district is waiting to see if enough students enroll before moving forward with renaming, according to Edwards.

The “A&T Four” — Jibreel Khazan (formerly Ezell Blair Jr.), Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond — launched the sit-in movement in 1960 when the A&T students sat down at the segregated F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Greensboro.

The A&T Four Middle College is an all-male public high school located on A&T’s campus. Students have the opportunity to take university classes at A&T and earn up to two years of college credit. 

While the name change is effective now, it will not affect this year’s diplomas or other official documents. The district will officially transition to the new name on July 1. 

“I love the name change,” said Trevor Rice, an A&T Four Middle College senior who came to the meeting on Tuesday.  

Later in the meeting, Superintendent Sharon Contreras announced the federal waivers that had allowed this school district and others to provide free meals to students during the pandemic will soon expire.

Some schools in low-income areas will still be able to provide free meals to students through the Community Eligibility Provision which existed during the pandemic. At other schools, not all families have free lunch applications on file and many will need to apply and have their eligibility determined in order to continue to receive free meals throughout the next school year.

Contreras did not deliver her annual budget recommendations at the Tuesday meeting.

That is now planned for the board’s meeting on April 26.