2015 elation filled the Rock Hill, South Carolina municipal courtroom as the 8 living members of the Friendship 9 stood up one by one. Convictions vacated for the friendship 9 – black men, college students in the throes of civil rights in the early 1960s. They were all arrested in 1961 for integrating a rock hill, South Carolina – whites only – lunch counter called “Mccrorey’s Five and Dime.” The charges: trespassing and disturbing the peace. The verdict back then: guilty. The sentence: jail time and hard labor. Circuit court Judge John C. Hayes III, over-turned the charges Wednesday. In a twist of fate – he is the nephew of the judge who presided over the case 54 years ago. Now, a generation later, he rights the wrongs of yesteryear. Judge Hayes explains, “my uncle would be elated that this has been done.” It was the segregated South in the early 1960’s, and these men felt the pulse of the burgeoning Civil Rights movement, the fight for racial equality. They dared to take a seat and defy the law. John Gaines, one of the Friendship 9, felt the emotion of the day. “We were able to change many great things in this country. We impacted a whole nation.” Clarence Graham, also a member of the Friendship 9 cannot believe this day has come. “I said in my heart I was leaping. I’m happy. We appreciate the opportunity to walk out of here free… Free indeed.” David Boone remembers, too. 5 decades ago, he stood up for the Friendship 9 – a white man, fighting for his black brothers in the heat of the storm. “I am elated. It’s a wonderful occasion.” Two score and 14 years after their nightmare began: Redemption, and it’s loud and bold for the whole world to see.