“Friendship Nine” receive official apology

Civil rights activists honored for 1961 lunch counter sit-in

(NBC News) – A wrong was set right after more than a half century of delay in a South Carolina courtroom Wednesday. A judge threw out charges against nine men arrested at a lunch counter sit-in that became a pivotal moment in the civil rights era.

The “Friendship Nine,” eight college students and a civil rights organizer, also received an official apology. “We cannot rewrite history, but we can right history,” Judge John C. Hayes III said in overturning their convictions.

York County Prosecutor Kevin Brackett said that simply clearing the convictions wasn’t enough. “Allow me to take this opportunity to extend to each of you my heartfelt apologies for what happened to you in 1961,” Brackett said. “It was wrong.”

“I can hold my head up. It’s never been down, but a little bit higher, and I think that God is going to let us live a little bit longer for it, enjoy some of that freedom,” Clarence Graham, one of the Friendship Nine, said afterward.

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