In January 1961, Clarence Graham and a group of students from Friendship College in Rock Hill, S.C., were sentenced to 30 days hard labor for trying to eat lunch.
At McCrory’s in downtown Rock Hill, blacks were served at the back door and the counter seats were for white people only.
“We couldn’t sit down and eat like the other customers,” Graham said. “We were treated like second-class citizens.”
‘Nothing about us’
The young black college students who became known as the “Friendship Nine” have shared their story orally, but it had not been written down. A new book by Shelby native Kimberly Johnson, “No Fear for Freedom: The Story of the Friendship 9,” is the first to preserve their accounts of what happened on Jan. 31, 1961, and the days afterward.
Johnson met the men three years ago when they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their sit-in.
“I told them what an honor it was to meet them and that I didn’t know their story and was going to look up information about them,” she said. “One of the men, Mr. Graham, spoke up and said, ‘There is nothing about us.’”