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Civil Rights activists allowed to graduate 50 years late

Students at Alabama County Courthouse sit in protest

Three African-American students victimized because of their civil rights activism finally received their graduate degrees last weekend, 50 years after they were kicked out of college.
James McFadden, St. John Dixon and Joseph Peterson were expelled from Alabama State University 50 years ago because they took part in a sit-in at the Montgomery County Courthouse cafeteria.

University President William Harris said at the ceremony: “Today, we honor those who were expelled.”
“We don’t know how your lives were changed by what happened 50 years ago, but we know how our lives were changed by what you did.”

The men were among 35 students who participated in a sit-in on February 25, 1960 and were subsequently kicked out of school.
Because they were identified as leaders in that movement, McFadden, Dixon and Peterson were kicked out of school along with six other students.
McFadden said: “We decided to sit-in at the courthouse because it was a public building. Citizens pay taxes, and all citizens had a right to be in that building.”

Montgomery was also the site where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in 1955, sparking the bus boycotts.
“My parents always told us that when we see injustice anywhere, we have an obligation to change it,” said McFadden.
“It was in my DNA and in my spirit to right these wrongs.”

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