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Rock Hill Marks 63rd Anniversary of Historic Friendship Nine Sit-In from Civil Rights Movement

Civil rights sit-in reenactment

Rock Hill Celebrates 63rd Anniversary of Friendship Nine

Paying Tribute to a Significant Moment in History

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, today is not just an ordinary day. It marks the 63rd anniversary of a pivotal event that played a significant role in furthering the civil rights movement in the United States: the sit-in by the Friendship Nine.

The Unforgettable Friendship Nine Sit-in

On January 31st, 1961, nine African-American students from Friendship College, together with Thomas Gaither, walked nearly a mile through the heart of Rock Hill to McCrory’s Five & Dime, a local store known today as Kounter on Main Street. Their purpose was not for shopping, but to make a stand against racial segregation.

Despite the sit-in not being publicized, law enforcement officers – including those from the state – lined the streets as these brave young men marched on. The students were encouraged not to enter the store and “start trouble.” Unfazed, they entered McCrory’s two at a time and were instantly arrested after sitting at the “whites-only” counter.

“Jail, No Bail”

The Friendship Nine took a revolutionary approach after their arrest. Instead of paying the $100 bail to secure their release, which was a common practice at the time, they opted to stay in jail for 30 days. This bold step marked the commencement of the “Jail, No Bail” movement, a strategy aimed at challenging the unjust policies of racial segregation and putting financial pressure on the system that perpetuated it.

Carrying The Torch Of Triumph

Fast-forward to today, the image of W. T. ‘Dub’ Massey and David Williamson, Jr., two members of the Friendship Nine, seated at the same counter they were once arrested for occupying, is a testament to their unyielding spirit and the progress made in the pursuit of racial equality. Their courage and determination continue to inspire generations of activists across the nation and around the globe.

Commemorating and Looking Ahead

As we commemorate this significant rise against injustice, let us all remember the courage, the unwavering dedication, and the pursuit of justice demonstrated by the Friendship Nine. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

May the memory of these brave souls serve as a beacon of hope and a lingering reminder that the fight for justice and equality must persist. In a world where racial tensions continue to run high, embracing our shared history, acknowledging past injustices, and continuously working towards a more inclusive future is more critical than ever.

HERE Rock Hill
Author: HERE Rock Hill

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