The Friendship Nine
Written by Erica Taylor, The Tom Joyner Morning Show Monday, 31 January 2011 16:05
The Friendship Nine is the name given to a group of college students who served as pioneers for the lunch counter sit-ins in protest against discrimination. Their motto was “Jail, No Bail,” which set a national precedent for demonstrators to choose lockup instead of bailing out to demand justice. The motto became a trend all over the nation during the civil rights movement.
FIfty years ago on this day in 1961, nine students from Friendship College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and one young member from the Congress of Racial Equality sat down at the counter of McCrory's 5-10-25¢ Variety Store downtown. They were part of an anticipated protest that had the local authorities on standby. The protest began with women holding picket signs in front of the store, chanting as the men entered the restaurant. They were asked, but refused to leave.
Before staging the protest, the 10 men had agreed to do their jail time instead of paying money to the same state system that allowed the discrimination. At 11:30 a.m., all of the men were arrested and taken to jail and charged with trespassing, charges they had heard before. The 10 men were offered a $100 fine or 30 days at the York County Prison Farm. Nine of them chose the prison term, with the exception of Charles Taylor, who was in danger of losing his athletic scholarship and opted for bail.
While in jail, people traveled to Rock Hill to protest for the Friendship Nine, including members of SNCC, who were also jailed for protesting.
On Jan. 2, 2007, a South Carolina state historical marker commemorating the McCrory's sit-ins and the Friendship Nine was officially unveiled and dedicated in front of the old McCrory's building. In addition, a documentary called “Jail, No Bail” will be released to tell the story of the Friendship Nine this Thursday, Feb. 3rd.
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