On Wednesday, the eight surviving members of the
Righting History, 54 Years Later | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
Friendship 9 were back in a Rock Hill courthouse to hear their sentences vacated and their convictions overturned by Circuit Court Judge John C. Hayes III, the nephew of the judge who original sentenced them decades ago. The men were represented by Ernest Finney Jr., 83, who had defended their case 54 years ago and later served as South Carolina Supreme Court’s first black chief justice. In his ruling for acquittal, Hayes argued the convictions had been “predicated upon values and beliefs that have since been deemed to violate the fundamental guarantees” of the Constitution. “We cannot rewrite history,” he said, “but we can right history.”
The crime that each of the Friendship 9 was found guilty of and served time for was ordering a meal at a lunch counter while black/criminal trespass.
Times have changed. But not enough.