[Marxism] James Wells, 77, Participant in a Civil Rights Sit-In, Dies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jul 14 12:05:21 MDT 2018

James Wells, 77, Participant in a Civil Rights Sit-In, Dies
By The Associated Press
July 10, 2018

James Wells, a member of a South Carolina civil rights protest group 
known as the Friendship Nine whose sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter 
in 1961 was a key moment in the civil rights movement, died on Sunday at 
his home in Rock Hill, S.C. He was 77.

His death was confirmed by the Robinson Funeral Home in Rock Hill.

Mr. Wells spent a month in jail in 1961 after he and eight other black 
men were charged with trespassing at the lunch counter.

The men, who were attending the now-defunct Friendship Junior College in 
Rock Hill, chose to spend a month in jail rather than paying a $100 fine 
as part of what was called the “jail, no bail” movement. Their time on a 
chain gang in York County encouraged protesters to stay in jail to fight 
segregation, Jim Crow laws and other forms of racism.

The “jail, no bail” strategy is now seen as a crucial moment for the 
sit-in movement. It eased the burden of the high court fees being 
accumulated by activists across the South, and it embarrassed local 

The convictions of Mr. Wells and the other members of the Friendship 
Nine were overturned in 2015. York County prosecutors apologized to the 
group for their arrest and their time in jail.

“We cannot rewrite history, but we can right history,” John C. Hayes 
III, the chief administrative judge for South Carolina’s 16th Judicial 
Circuit, said when the misdemeanor charges were vacated. “Now, as to the 
Friendship Nine, is the time and opportunity to do so. Now is the time 
to recognize that justice is not temporal, but is the same yesterday, 
today and tomorrow.”

Mr. Wells was born on June 25, 1941. A lawyer and an Air Force veteran, 
he is the third member of the group to die. Robert McCullough died in 
2006, and Clarence Graham died in 2016. Ernest A. Finney Jr., the lawyer 
who represented the Friendship Nine, died last year.

Survivors include his wife, Ella.

Mr. Wells and the other members of the Friendship Nine are honored with 
stools at the former lunch counter where the protests took place. There 
also are signs and markers about the group around the city.

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