Counter Histories: Rock Hill

In January 1961, a group of young men were arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina, following a peaceful attempt to desegregate the McCrory’s lunch counter. Nine of the men refused to post bail and were sentenced to a month of hard labor at the York County Prison Farm. January 28, 2015, a South Carolina judge threw out the convictions of the Friendship 9.

Members of the Friendship 9 gather at Five and Dine, a restaurant at the former location of McCrory’s dime store in Rock Hill, SC.

In 2014, the Southern Foodways Alliance worked with longtime collaborator Kate Medley to produce a series of films that mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed on July 2 of that year by President Lyndon B. Johnson. We commissioned five films from five teams across the South. SFA is proud of their good work and the collective spirit it represents.

Our goals are to put the restaurant desegregation struggles of the 1950s and 1960s in historical context, make clear what lessons were learned in the process, and ask what work remains to be done toward the welcome table ideal. These films share stories from our Southern past. And they demonstrate the relevance of these events in the present day.

Watch Counter Histories: Rock Hill, an artistic documentary of the Friendship 9 by Tomorrow Pictures. Explore more Counter Histories here.