57 years ago, nine young African-American students of Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill were arrested for attempting to desegregate the all-white lunch counter at the McCrory's variety store. One of those students was James Wells. He died Sunday, July 8th in his hometown of Rock Hill. The decision Wells and the other young protesters made, following their arrests, would help shape the civil rights movement throughout the South.
In 2007, historical markers were placed on Main Street in Rock Hill, explaining who the nine were. Nine years later, the city's Freedom Walkway, an intricate mural honoring local heroes for justice and equality, was completed.
James Wells is the third member of the Friendship Nine to have died. Robert McCullough died in 2006 and Clarence Graham died in 2016. Brother David Boone, a white Catholic clergyman who was an advisor to the group, died in 2017.
Remaining Friendship Nine members are: John Gaines; Thomas Gaither; W.T. Massey; Mack Workman; David Williamson, Jr; and Willie McCleod. More about each member is available at Friendship9.org.
WATCH: South Carolina ETV interviewed members of the Friendship Nine. The James Wells interview is below.