Sure it took 54 years, but South Carolina finally came around.
A judge in Rock Hill, S.C., threw out the convictions of nine black men arrested on Jan. 31, 1961, for trying to integrate a whites-only lunch counter in that state where segregation had been strictly enforced. At the Rock Hill Law Center on Wednesday, Municipal Judge Jane Pittman Modla read from the original court record:
“Offense: trespassing. Disposition: guilty. Sentence: $100 or 30 days. Condition: sent to the chain gang,” she said for each of them, reading from the 1961 docket, CNN reports.
Lunch counter sit-ins by black college students began in Greensboro, N.C.. That Woolworth’s store is now the home of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. The sit-ins spread to other cities in the South.
The students from Friendship College in South Carolina, rather than pay the $100 to benefit their oppressors, decided to do the 30 days of hard labor, which became known during the civil rights movement as “jail, no bail.”
Seven of the men “Friendship Nine” whose convictions were vacated Wednesday were in attendance at the judicial hearing. One has since died, and another had transportation issues.