Remembering the Orangeburg Massacre 50 Years Later
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WOLO)- Half a century has passed since the Orangeburg Massacre but the wounds remain fresh for the for the students who were injured and family members of the men who were killed.
Things were emotional Thursday afternoon at South Carolina State as hundreds remembered the night of February 8, 1968 when at least 30 students were injured, three losing their lives to gunfire from Highway Patrol.
“I stand here as commander of the South Carolina Highway Patrol at a loss for words to explain what happened on that tragic night,” said Col. C.N. Williamson, Commander of the state Highway Patrol.
Though several governors and other officials have apologized for the shooting, the patrolmen involved were acquitted of all charges. Survivors of the shooting say it is beyond time for the massacre to be investigated.
“The South Carolina Legislature has never said a word. They have never done anything. I do not think this state will ever truly heal, we will not get past Mother Emmanuel until this state steps up, takes responsibility for the good and the bad, and bring this thing to a head,” said survivor Bobby Eaddy who was 17 when the gunfire hit his back, landing a quarter-inch away from his heart.
Though Thursday’s ceremony honored the three lives that were lost 50 years ago, speakers said it was also about recognizing the impact they had on so many others.
“Even though it was a horrific event, it was in some ways a godsend. It woke some people up. Thank you for being a sacrificial lamb, thank you for being a survivor and claiming your survival because it is so important,” said Claflin University senior Krista Bradley.