All but one members of the Friendship Nine were from Rock Hill. After leaving Friendship Junior College, they joined the military, enrolled in another college or started successful businesses. All believe the "Jail, No Bail" strategy paved the way to an integrated America. Here's a look at each member:
Lives in Rock Hill. Retired banker and property manager. Age, 68
Williamson grew up on Carroll Park in the Crawford Road neighborhood, near the Emmett Scott High School that he would attend and graduate from in 1960. His home was also near the integrated St. Mary's Catholic Church. He was involved in the nonviolent protests in downtown Rock Hill while in high school and after enrolling at Friendship Junior College. Williamson was part of the planning leading up to the Jan. 31, 1961, protest, then stayed an integral part of later protests that continued after the Friendship Nine were released from jail. After graduating from Friendship and seeing the hostility that continued to face protesters and blacks in Rock Hill, Williamson moved to New Jersey. He returned to the Carolinas and worked in Charlotte before returning to Rock Hill. Williamson, who continues to mentor young men, frequently talks to school and civic groups about the Friendship Nine and works part-time as a substitute teacher in Rock Hill schools.
QUESTION: Why were the "Jail, No Bail" actions of the Friendship Nine important?
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"What we did was not done for ourselves. The decision to protest, then stay in jail, was made simply so that other people would benefit from showing that segregation in Rock Hill was wrong. We did all of it as a group, no one more important than any other, and that showed that there was strength in numbers. Rock Hill is a better place for people of any color than it was when I was 18 years old at the time of the protest. That is the legacy we have."