Judge throws out Friendship 9’s civil rights era conviction

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ROCK HILL, SC — 54 years after their arrest, a group of black men known as the “Friendship 9” were exonerated Wednesday.

The men were the first civil rights activists to serve jail time for sitting at an all-white lunch counter in South Carolina.

Their case made national headlines because after the men were convicted of trespassing they chose a sentence of 30-days in a labor camp rather than paying a $100 fine.

Civil rights protesters often agreed to pay a fine, but the men tried a new strategy: “jail, no bail,” which became a tool in the fight against Jim Crow segregation laws.

In a poetic twist, the judge who cleared their names today is the nephew of the judge who originally sentenced the unsung civil rights heroes in 1961.

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