Civil rights activist
Thomas Gaither was a field secretary with the Congress of Racial Equality. He helped to organize civil rights protests in Rock Hill, South Carolina. On January 31, 1961, he joined students from Friendship Junior College to picket and sit-in at the segregated McCrory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill. Gaither was one of a group of nine students, known as the “Friendship Nine,” who refused to be bailed out of jail for their peaceful protest and chose to serve 30 days of hard labor. Gaither, a graduate of Claflin University and native of Great Falls, S.C., was a roving activist who helped coordinate the Freedom Rides and voter registration campaigns throughout the South.
Image courtesy of Cecil Williams