Friendship Junior College was founded in 1891 under the name Friendship Institute. The first class, with an enrollment of eleven pupils, was held October 11, 1891. Rev. Mansel P. Hall was the teacher; when the Office of the President was later established, he was elected to fill it. He served in this position until his death in 1922.
Although the purpose for founding Friendship Institute was to train preachers and teachers, the Institute was by necessity an elementary school. Since there were no public schools for Negro's in Rock Hill until 1920. High school grades were gradually added as the needs demanded, and in 1906, Friendship Institute was chartered as Friendship Normal and Industrial College. After a curriculum for ministerial training was organized, the Institute gave emphasis to the purpose for which it was founded- training preachers and teachers.
In 1961 a group of African American men from Friendship College went to jail after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the group later became known as the Friendship Nine. The group gained nationwide attention because they followed an untried strategy called "jail, no bail," which lessened the huge financial burden civil rights groups were facing as the sit-in movement spread across the South. They became known as the Friendship Nine because eight of the nine men were students at Rock Hill's Friendship Junior College. They are sometimes referred to as the Rock Hill Nine.
In 1978, Friendship College was approved by the South Carolina Department of Education to offer Bachelors Degree in Accounting, Business Administration and Economics. The College closed its doors in 1981.