McCain died Thursday at Moses Cone Hospital after suffering a brief illness, the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal reported.
"The Aggie family mourns the loss of Dr. Franklin McCain. His contributions to this university, the city of Greensboro and the nation as a civil rights leader is without measure," Harold L. Martin Sr., the chancellor of A&T, said Friday in a news release. "His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of Aggies and friends throughout the world."
On Feb. 1, 1960, McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr., who was later known as Jibreel Khazan, and David Richmond staged a sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro to protest the restaurant's policy of refusing service to African-Americans.
The freshmen became known as "the Greensboro Four," and the Woolworth's building where the protest was held is now the site of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.
McCain graduated from A&T in 1964 with a degree in chemistry and biology. He went on to work for the Celanese Corp. in Charlotte for almost 35 years.
Throughout his life, McCain remained involved with civic activities and community organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.