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Clean Slate for Friendship 9

Jan 15, 2015 11:49 AM EST

On January 31, 1961 a group of friends from Rock Hill walked into a "whites only" restaurant, ordered, and were escorted out in handcuffs.


Now, five decades later, the group known as the 'Friendship 9' will finally have the charges removed from their record.

Straight Talk: 01-12-15 Kimberly Johnson

Posted January 12, 2015 1:16 pm

Local children’s author Kimberly Johnson joins Manning Kimmel on Straight Talk.

Photo submitted Members of the Friendship 9 will be in Shelby at the Earl Scruggs Center Nov. 22 to sign copies of a book written by Shelby native Kimberly P. Johnson.

Earl Scruggs Center hosts ‘Living History – The Friendship 9’

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM.

Four members of The Friendship 9 and children’s author and Shelby native Kimberly P. Johnson will present a program from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Earl Scruggs Center, 103 S. Lafayette St., Shelby.


They will talk about what they did in the 1960s to make a stand for Civil Rights.


The 1960s sit-in movement started in Greensboro, but when African American students would get arrested for sitting at white-only counters, they would be bailed out of jail for $100 or more. Over a year’s time this became so costly that something needed to be done – both to save different Civil Rights groups as well as make a more serious statement about equality.

T. Ortega Gaines - -Author Kimberly Johnson, second from right, meets with members of the Friendship Nine at the former McCrory’s store, now the Five and Dine restaurant, in downtown Rock Hill. The men made history on Jan. 31, 1961, when they were arrested for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter. From left is civil rights activist David Boone, who took part in 1960s sit-ins, and Friendship Nine members Clarence Graham, James Wells, Willie McCleod and W.T. “Dub” Massey.

Friendship Nine’s new day in court will clear records

By Joe DePriest Posted: Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014

Nearly 54 years after they went to jail for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter in Rock Hill, the Friendship Nine are returning to court to get their records cleared.


Children’s author Kimberly Johnson of York, S.C., is proud she helped make that happen.


Her latest book, “No Fear For Freedom,” is about the nine Friendship College students and a young civil rights organizer who refused to pay a $100 fine and spent 30 days at a York County prison farm in 1961. Over the years, the convictions haven’t gone away. But that will change in January.


“I feel all that I did was get the truth in front of people,” said Johnson of York, S.C. “And somebody listened.”

That somebody was 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett of Rock Hill.


Johnson recently met with him to share insights she’d gotten from a recent rereading of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”


In July, she’d accepted an invitation from King Center CEO Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., to attend a weeklong nonviolence study camp in Atlanta. Bernice King wrote the foreword to Johnson’s book on the Friendship Nine.

Children’s book author Kimberly Johnson talks to Sydney Jackson, a sixth-grader, and other students at one of Sullivan’s Middle School’s summer “reading parties.” RACHEL SOUTHMAYD —

Sullivan Middle hosts reading party to engage students - BY RACHEL SOUTHMAYD July 10, 2014

Students scribbling furiously on paper, discussing adjectives and verbs and listening intently may not seem like normal activities for a July day at a school, but that’s exactly what was happening at Sullivan Middle School Wednesday during one of the school’s “Reading Parties.”


This party, one of several the school faculty has held throughout the summer in Sullivan’s media center, featured a writing workshop with local children’s book author Kimberly Johnson.


Johnson, whose most recent book is “No Fear for Freedom: The Story of the Friendship 9,” ran the students through their paces. They did a set of rapid-fire brainstorming activities, and within minutes, the students had come up with enough information to craft a full essay.


“And that’s how easy it is to come up with ideas,” Johnson said.

David Williamson Jr. at the Five and Dine in Rock Hill. Click to read more to view the TV report video.

History Made At Rock Hill Diner Now Written In Children's Book

Posted: Mar 19, 2014 3:58 PM EDT Updated: Mar 19, 2014 5:30 PM EDT By Mary Quinn O'Connor, Digital Journalist

There was a time when David Williamson, Jr. sat down at this counter in Rock Hill when not only was he not served, but he was hauled off to jail.He was part of the Friendship 9 – a group of Friendship Junior College Students in 1961 whom decided to stage a sit in.Instead of paying their bail, they stayed in jail for 30 days and started the practice of “Jail, No Bail!”What he didn’t know then was that he would be making history.“We used a strategy that had never been used before,” said Williamson. “We went to jail instead of paying the bail. I think that kind of galvanized the situation and gave the movement a boost.”His name and the names of the other eight friends are etched in the bar stools at Five and Dine so that their story is never forgotten. But one local children’s book writer waned their story to go beyond the lunch counter.


“I felt compelled to try to put those words of how they felt and what they went through on paper in a way children could understand,” said author Kimberly Johnson.

Brittany Randolph / The Star Anne Landry, right, presents the Carl Carpenter Gold Heart Award to children’s author and literacy advocate Kimberly Johnson.

Golden words: Children’s author receives award for literacy work

Shelby Star: Monday, March 17, 2014 at 07:49 AM.

Children’s author and literacy advocate Kimberly P. Johnson’s grandfather, Amos Pearson, didn’t know how to read, and there weren’t books in their home.


But he and his wife, Lucy Pearson, still fostered a love for reading in their granddaughter that she has devoted her life to developing in other children.


“My grandmother recited poetry all the time,” Johnson said Friday. “She memorized Bible verses. I want to keep that alive.”


Through her books and writing workshops for teachers and children, Johnson inspires the next generation of writers and readers. Because of the hundreds of children she has encouraged since she wrote her first book, “The Itty Bitty Frog,” in 1997, Johnson was awarded the Carl Carpenter Gold Heart Award. The award is presented monthly by the Dick Palmer family to recognize individuals or organizations who make a difference in the community.


“Receiving this award means a lot to me,” said Johnson, the daughter of Sue Smith of Shelby. “There is nothing like getting an award from home, because Shelby is always going to be part of my heart.


“I want to do as much as I can to be as successful as I can so I can come back home and do more.”

Hundreds turn out for Friendship 9 book release and signing

Posted March 16, 2014 4:16 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News, News By Mike Crowder

A crowd of at least 200 people turned out at the Palmetto Room in downtown Rock Hill Friday evening for the official release of the book ”No Fear for Freedom: The story of the Friendship 9.” The book tells the story of the 9 African-American Friendship College students who were arrested for holding a sit-in at the McCrory’s lunch counter downtown more than 50 years ago. Children’s author Kimberly Johnson wrote the book… and says it can be read by children and adults. “If we don’t keep those stories alive, they will not know how wonderful and rich their history is,” Johnson said. “Children need to understand that ‘I got to this place because of the sacrifices that so many others made’.” Several surviving members of the Friendship 9 turned out for Friday’s book release and signing. The 28-to-32 page book, illustrated by Vanessa Thompson, is the first to chronicle the story of the important event during the civil rights movement.

Clarence Graham, a member of the Friendship Nine, speaks about the new children’s book “No Fear for Freedom: The Story of the Friendship 9.” STEPHANIE MARKS MARTELL — Special to The Herald

Children's Book on Rock Hill's Civil Rights Protesters Out By Andrew Dys March 6, 2014

On Thursday afternoon, two grandfathers stood in the Five & Dine restaurant on Rock Hill’s Main Street, each holding a children’s book.


On the cover of the book is an illustration of nine young black men who were dragged to jail from the very same spot in 1961 because they sat down at a whites-only lunch counter to protest racial segregation.


“That’s me,” said Clarence Graham, 70, pointing to one of those young black faces on the cover. “It really happened, right here. They hauled us right out the back door to the police station out back.”


Graham then did what he had vowed he would not do – he cried about what happened to him in his hometown and what he did that helped change America.


Willie McCleod, 71, the other protester at the counter Thursday, read from the book, which arrived this week and is now on sale so the world can learn about these men, these Friendship Nine.


“People sometimes don’t know that in those days, the laws and the society kept black and white apart,” McCleod said. “People don’t know that we were told we were less. That we were not equal.”

Shelby native writes book about Rock Hill’s ‘Friendship Nine’

Shelby Star, By Jackie Bridges, Monday, February 10, 2014 at 07:45 AM.

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.’”

New Kids Book Tells Story Of Rock Hill Civil Rights Milestone

By Mark Rumsey Thu February 20, 2014

In January, 1961, ten young African-Americans were arrested after they sat down at an all-white lunch counter at a variety store in downtown Rock Hill, South Carolina. Nine of those who were arrested chose to serve 30-day jail sentences rather than win their release by paying bail. The protesters came to be known as the "Friendship Nine" and their story has previously been told in a South Carolina ETV documentary, "Jail, No Bail". Now, children's author and Shelby, North Carolina native Kimberly Johnson has written a book about the events titled "No Fear For Freedom: The Story Of The Friendship 9". WFAE's Mark Rumsey spoke with Ms. Johnson.

Straight Talk: 02/21/14 Kimberly Johnson, Willie McCleod & Clarence Graham

Posted February 21, 2014 1:13 pm | Filed under Programming, Straight Talk By Mike Crowder

Author Kimberly Johnson and Friendship 9 participants Willie McCleod & Clarence Graham join Manning Kimmel on Straight Talk.

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