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A group of black civil rights activists was exonerated in the United States, more than 50 years after being condemned to hard labor for sitting in a white-only area. A judge in Rock Hill, South Carolina overturned the convictions of the "Friendship Nine" during a symbolic and at times emotional court session. "We cannot re-write history but we can right history," Judge John Hayes said, quoted by the Charlotte Observer. On January 31, 1961 the group mostly composed of students from nearby Friendship College went into a restaurant reserved for whites in the city of Rock Hill to protest segregation laws.