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Editorial: Friendship Nine

Posted: January 27, 2015 7:48 p.m.
Updated: January 28, 2015 1:00 a.m.

About an hour north of Camden, nine civil rights protestors from the 1960s are scheduled today to receive a measure of justice after being jailed for staging a lunch counter protest in Rock Hill more than a half-century ago. Known as the Friendship Nine because they attended the now-defunct Friendship Junior College, the men protested a segregated lunch counter at a McCrory's store in 1961; they had decided prior to their actions that after being arrested, they would refuse bail and instead serve jail sentences as a way to spotlight their actions and the injustice leading to the sit-in.

They were, indeed, arrested -- dragged from the store, as many such protestors were in those days. Convicted of a misdemeanor charge of trespassing, most of them served 30 days in a county prison camp. And now, partly at the behest of Solicitor Kevin Brackett, their records are scheduled to be wiped clean. A new restaurant now stands on the site of the old McCrory's, and the men’s names are inscribed on lunch stools there. Signs honoring the men have been placed at entrances to the city.

Such gestures are common across the South now, as cities attempt to mitigate some of the ills from a Jim Crow era. This, of course, doesn’t make everything right, but it is a step forward and a way to express sorrow and misgivings over injustices that took place a long time ago.

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