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Friendship Nine re-enactment walk on 54th anniversary of sit-in arrests Saturday morning

ROCK HILL The Friendship Nine, who had their criminal records for 1961 sit-in civil rights protests cleared in an historic court hearing Wednesday, will commemorate the anniversary of the event with a re-enactment Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Nine black students at the former Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill and a civil rights organizer walked from campus to downtown on Jan. 31, 1961 and sat down at the segregated McCrory’s lunch counter. All were arrested for trespassing and convicted the next day, but opted to spend 30 days in jail instead of paying $100 bail. The incident started the “jail, no Bail” movement and reignited Southern civil rights protests.

All but one stayed in jail for the full 30 days and have been known since as the Friendship Nine.

Wednesday, after 54 years, a judge vacated the sentences, ruling that the arrests and convictions were based on illegal laws of segregation. The story was a national event Wednesday.

On Saturday’s anniversary of the day in 1961, most of the members and their families and others, will walk from the site of the campus, at the corner of Black and Allen Streets, to Main Street.

The public is invited to line the streets.

Look for full coverage Saturday and in Sunday’s paper.