SC State students march on campus to remember Orangeburg Massacre

ORANGEBURG, SC (WOLO) — Wednesday marks the 54th anniversary of the Orangeburg Massacre.

It’s a big part of the city’s history as well as that of South Carolina State University.

“I would have been out there right with them,” said Javonni D. Ayers, SC State SGA president.

She refers to the protestors who objected to the segregation of the All Star Bowling Lane in Orangeburg. Students at SC State marched on campus to remember the fight against segregation in the city back in 1968. They also heard from two former students who remember the events decades later.

One former SC State student remembers trying to go into that bowling alley with some other students.

“When we go to the bowling alley, Harry Floyd looked up at us and said, ‘Y’all can’t come in! Get out of here,’” remembers John Stroman, who protested segregation in Orangeburg back in 1968.

The bowling alley owner was more upset when at first the students refused to leave.

“He said, ‘Y’all are going to jail.’ I said, ‘I’ve gone to jail before. That’s nothing new,’” Stroman said, as the audience laughed.

Things came to a flash point on February 8th when 3 African American males were shot and killed by South Carolina Highway Patrol officers. Twenty-eight others were injured.

“It was just basic human rights that they wanted. The fact that they put themselves out there to stand up to them says a lot about who they are,” Ayers said. “It says a lot about the Orangeburg community, South Carolina State students and Claflin students. I’m so honored to be a part of this legacy here with them.”

Students are glad things have changed for the better for African Americans in Orangeburg but believe there is more progress to be made.

“I would have to say we still have a ways to go,” Ayers said. “There’s a lot that has changed but we still have a ways to go.”

“Orangeburg is on its way up. This march and everything we do keeps us going forward,” said SC State senior Jamie Gilmore.

Ayers says a step forward in the right direction would be more teaching about the Orangeburg Massacre in schools.

“We should not just have to hear about this when we’re here on campus or in the community,” the SGA president said. “I grew up here in South Carolina in the K through 12 program and I did not learn anything about the Orangeburg Massacre.”

Mr. South Carolina State Jamie Gilmore believes the HBCU he attends is an opportunity to improve the lives of future generations. 

“I can shine and show other generations that we have so much more to go but you still can do it. With my university serving as a light, I just believe that it shows everyone around me that with foundation and support, you can do anything. That’s what community really means here at SC State,” Gilmore concluded.

Categories: Local News, Orangeburg