James “Jim” Wells, one of the members of the Friendship Nine civil rights protesters who spent a month in jail in 1961 and whose convictions were overturned 54 years later, died Sunday in his hometown of Rock Hill.
Wells, who went on to become a prominent Rock Hill lawyer, was 77. Wells and the other black protesters were convicted in 1961 of trespassing at a whites-only Rock Hill lunch counter.
The men chose a month in jail rather than paying a fine in what was called the “Jail, No Bail” movement. The convictions were overturned in 2015 in a court hearing that became national news. York County prosecutors apologized to Wells and the other protesters for their being arrested and jailed.
Wells, an Air Force veteran, was the third member of the Friendship Nine to pass away. Robert McCullough died in 2006 and Clarence Graham died in 2016. Funeral arrangements for Wells are pending.