On this day in 1961 activists in Rock Hill, South Carolina, began the “Jail-No-Bail” campaign. It lasted until March.
The tactic was developed at a 1960 Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) strategy conference in Atlanta. Advocates argued that refusing to pay bail would intensify the struggle against segregation and gain more media coverage.
Some took the position that paying for bail or fine justified one’s own imprisonment.
The protests started a few days earlier on February 1, 1961 when Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) members were sentenced to 30 days of hard labor and fined $100 each.
Four days later SNCC leaders staged a Jail-No-Bail sit-in in solidarity with the imprisoned CORE activists. The sit-in re-energized the movement in Rock Hill, SC.
Picket lines grew to over 100 protesters and the media resumed covering demonstrations. While this didn’t result in the desegregation of Rock Hill, it did lead to Tom Gaiter, a leader in CORE and one of the people sentenced, to suggest a Freedom Ride through the city and other states of the Deep South.
Photo: Rare photo of the Friendship Nine behind bars. Friendship College.