ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina State University has unveiled newly bronzed sculptures of three students killed during a peaceful protest on campus 52 years ago. This year’s commemoration of the Orangeburg Massacre was held inside the Martin Luther King Junior Auditorium on the SC State Campus, the morning of Feb 8.
The institution was called South Carolina State College at the time of this tragedy, which continues to have an incredible impact on the Orangeburg community. On the night of February 8, 1968 several South Carolina Highway Patrolmen fired their weapons into a crowd of black students who were peacefully protesting rising racial tension on campus, particularly the “whites only” policy at nearby All-Star Bowling Lanes.
Three students were killed: Delano Middleton, Samuel Hammond and Henry Smith. Twenty-eight others were injured.
Because the Vietnam War was also making headlines at the time of the massacre, the shooting received little public attention.
Nine patrolmen involved were tried and acquitted.
Retired SC State University professor of history, William Hine, says memorials for the Orangeburg Massacre are needed to, “continue to generate awareness for what has happened in the past and what – sad to say – continues in different forms and ways to happen.”
Cleveland L. Sellers, Junior was shot during the Orangeburg Massacre and says, “We were on the front line fighting for the rights to vote and the rights to have equal opportunity and equity and justice and those things were very important then. They are now very important again and look like those issues and going to confront the African-American, and people of color, once more and we need to be prepared to put on our marching shoes and get ready to go.”
A family member representing each of the three students killed in the massacre, served as guest speakers during the ceremony, ahead of the unveiling of the new sculptures, which will be added to an Orangeburg Massacre Memorial already on campus.