54th Orangeburg Massacre Commemoration
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WOLO) – Three men were killed and more than 20 were wounded when state troopers opened fire on a group of South Carolina State College students on February 8th, 1968 during a protest. Now known as the Orangeburg Massacre, the community gathered today for its 54th commemoration.
“We would like to remember the sacrifices that was made so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we all have today,“ says Alexander Conyers, who is the Interim South State University President.
South Carolina State University unveiled the monument of Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond, and Delano Middleton whom are the three students killed by police during a protest against a ‘white only policy’ of a local bowling alley. Some of the survivors made their way back to the campus for the dedication. Arthur Lathan was a junior at the college, he says there was an uprising of protest leading up to the massacre and what seemed like the usual protest quickly took a turn.
”We were stopped by police and national guard. All of a sudden we heard gunshots and of course we panicked and started running back toward the campus, back toward the dormitories, and chaos just broke out,” says Lathan.
South Carolina State student Peyton Nance was an usher at the commemoration, he says it was an honor to met some of the survivors and hear their stories of that day.
“I heard bits and pieces of it but as a freshmen during first semester I took University 101 and we had a lesson where we learned about the Orangeburg Massacre. And hearing how things happened that they went to a bowling alley and they were killed — it was crazy, I was like wow,” says Nance.
For Arthur Lathan, he says 1968 doesn’t feel that long ago because the fight for to end injustice continues today. “Watching the television, seeing the struggles that are going on today in various segments of our society it takes me back to the time we had to protest just to get the right to go bowling or any other source of major entertainment that wasn’t available to us as black students.”