55 years later — Orangeburg Massacre ceremony held at SC State University


Today marks 55 years since The Orangeburg Massacre took place at South Carolina State University.

A commemoration ceremony was held to honor the three men who were killed by police officers who fired shots into a crowd that was protesting segregation at the nearby All-Star Bowling Lanes.

Eighteen-year-old Henry Smith, 17-year-old Delano Middleton, and 18-year-old Samuel Hammond Jr. all died the night of February 8th, 1968, and 27 others were injured.

At the ceremony, Civil Rights Era Photographer Cecil Williams led the audience through a slideshow of pictures from that night.

After the commemoration ceremony everyone in attendance  walked over to the Smith Hammond Middleton Legacy Plaza.

Williams says he was friends with some of the victims and the anniversary of the massacre remains an emotional day of remembrance.

“I am so very fortunate that I had a camera and I was able to capture some of these events. Because I think that pictures have a way of really emulating life and again this is the proof that these things happen. These pictures that we took will be in a museum that I’ve created, and we hope to preserve the memory of these people who did so much to sacrifice and make America a better place,” Williams says.

William Pickering lived through the massacre as well.

“I was standing right in the middle of the field and when the shooting started, it looked like daylight. All we could do was hit the ground. But I was fortunate enough to not get hit,” Pickering says.

When asked what he would say to young people today, he responded with, “We need to focus on some sort of unity in this country, and until we can accept each other as human beings, I think we’ll still have that division and problems in this country.”

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