“ Pricking the Conscience of the Nation ”: An In-depth Analysis of Media Coverage of the 1961 Friendship Nine Movement and Jail, No Bail Strategy

Open Access
Author:
Tindall, Cari A
Graduate Program:
Media Studies
Degree:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 15, 2014
Committee Members:
  • James Ford Risley, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • African Americans
  • Media Coverage
  • Friendship Nine
  • South Carolina
  • Sit-Ins
  • Student Protests
Abstract:
On January 31, 1961, the lives of nine students at the now defunct Friendship College in Rock Hill, South Carolina were forever changed as they sat in at a downtown lunch counter at McCrory’s to protest racial segregation. After being arrested for trespassing, the students propelled the “Jail, no bail” strategy when they chose to spend thirty days in jail rather than pay bail to a system that supported segregation and racial inequality. Although the “Jail, no bail” strategy had been previously used by students at sit-ins in across the country, the “Friendship Nine” were the first group of students to carry out their entire sentence. The students were arrested, tried, and found guilty. Two days later they began to serve their 30-day sentences on the York County Prison Farm. The reasons for what became known as the “Jail, no bail” strategy were two fold. First, the students wanted to place the financial burden onto the city, which would be responsible for feeding and clothing the demonstrators once jailed. Second, the students wanted to draw attention to the desegregation efforts in Rock Hill. The students wanted to effectively spread their message and raise awareness about the discriminatory practices evident in Rock Hill. The students recognized the significant role of the media as an effective tool for achieving social change. Although under examined and largely forgotten by scholars and historians, my thesis will examine the acts of the “Friendship Nine” and implementation of the “Jail, no bail” movement, which contributed to the success of the civil rights movement and the passing of several significant civil rights legislation. Through extensive newspaper archival analysis and oral history interviews, the purpose of this thesis is to examine local media’s coverage of the “Friendship Nine” and “Jail, no bail” strategy in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Prior to January 31, 1961, the newspaper, the Evening Herald reported the sit-ins and demonstrations in an objective, balanced manner, however, their evenhanded coverage did not continue as the “Friendship Nine” carried out the historic “Jail, no bail” strategy.