The King Center Hosts History Makers, Civil Rights Activists “Friendship 9,” along with Dr. Cornel West for Book Signing


Atlanta .. . Surviving members of the “Friendship 9,” a group of students, who attended Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill, S.C., during a pivotal time in the Civil Rights Movement, will headline the book-signing event for The King Center’s Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday observance. The event will begin at 2:45 pm on Sunday, January 11, 2015, at The King Center’s Freedom Hall Auditorium.    

The “Friendship 9” and their evolving story is still influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. more than fifty years after they were arrested for using the tactic of nonviolent civil disobedience that the Nobel Laureate redefined during the 1950s and 1960s.  Their activism thrust them into the pages of history on January 31, 1961, after their arrest for trespassing for nonviolently protesting the “separate but equal” legal precedent relative to public accommodations by sitting at an all-white lunch counter at McCrory’s Variety Store in Rock Hill’s downtown district. 

In 2014, Kimberly Johnson, author of No Fear for Freedom: The Story of the Friendship 9,

started her journey to tell the story of the protestors after her work with The King Center’s Nonviolence Opportunity Watch (N.O.W) Encounter in July of this year. It was during this experience when she was exposed to, and digested, Dr. King’s philosophy on unjust laws after reading his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”  Because of the tools of the N.O.W. program, Johnson was able to bring evidence of the unjust laws used against the “Friendship 9” to the attention of 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett.  Brackett has since endorsed the group’s lawyer’s motion that was filed in South Carolina’s 16th Circuit Court tovacate their trespassing conviction that resulted from their arrest in January 1961.  Dr. Bernice A. King, the CEO of The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, said of her father, “his teachings are still relevant forty-seven years after his assassination because they compel mankind to confront injustice wherever it exists.” 

“We are excited that Kimberly Johnson and some of the surviving members of the “Friendship 9” will be joining us for our annual book signing program,” said King. “Her book reminds us that there is no statute of limitations for remedying an injustice in the High Moral Court of History,” King said.  Johnson, will sign copies of her book No Fear for Freedom: The Story of the Friendship 9. 

The King Center also welcomes award-winning author & scholar Dr. Cornel West. “Dr. West will bring to our book-signing program a sophisticated analysis of my father,” said Bernice A. King in announcing Dr. West’s participation. “Dr. West’s new book, The Radical Kingis an invaluable and insightful contribution to the literature about my father, and we look forward to his participation.” Ms. King added that Dr. West, who delivered the keynote address at The King Center’s annual Commemorative Service in 2010, is “an eloquent and impassioned interpreter of the teachings and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

In addition to “The Friendship 9” & Dr. West, Ms. King will sign copies of her book, Hard Questions, Heart Answersand the biography, Desert Rose: The Life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King, written by her late aunt, Mrs. Edythe Scott Bagley, for which Ms. King wrote the introduction.

Joining them, Dr. Angela Farris Watkins will sign copies of both of her books, My Uncle Martin’s Words for America: Martin Luther King, Jr’s Niece Tells How He Made a Differenceand Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Six Guiding Beliefs (As Told By His Niece). Mrs. Christine King Farris will sign her book, My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.and Through it All: Reflections on My Life, My Family and My Faith. Dr. King’s niece, Ms. Alveda King will sign her book, King Rules: Ten Truths for You, Your Family and Our Nation to Prosper. Lastly, Naomi King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s only brother, Alfred Daniel King, will sign her book, A.D. and M.L. King: Two Brothers Who Dared to Dream.

All of the books will be for sale at The King Center’s Book Store and Resource Center, located adjacent to the auditorium. The Event is FREE and open to the public. Media coverage is welcome. For more information, please call Steve Klein at 404-526-8944.

For additional media coverage on the “Friendship 9,” please click on the following link: