Friendship 9’s Clarence Graham Laid to Rest
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Clarence Graham’s friends and family gathered at a Rock Hill church Friday to say goodbye to the man they say had been entirely committed to continuing the legacy of the Friendship 9.
In 1961, the group was convicted of trespassing when they refused to leave a “whites only” lunch counter in Rock Hill. The men could have paid a $100 fine, but chose to spend 30 days in jail to protest the law. It was only last year that a judge vacated the men’s sentences.
“Dropping the charges, having a book published, those things were near and dear to his heart. I’m happy that happened before he passed,” says David Williamson, Jr., part of the Friendship 9.
The remaining members of the Friendship 9 say this of the legacy they never expected, but are now continuing. “Nobody could have drawn it out better,” says Willie Thomas Massey. He continues, “We can tell it to our own kids and grandkids and continue keeping the legacy going.”
“The impact that they had on the civil rights movement, sort of changed the dynamic of the entire movement and really got things going,” says 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett. He remembers the Friendship 9, and Mr. Graham, as a hero, as well as courageous, gracious and ever humble. Brackett says, “For all he did and all he accomplished in his life, I think he would probably be embarrassed at all the fuss being made over him.”
Mr. Graham died last week at his Rock Hill home. He was 73 years old.