Sunday, May 5, 2024

History: Our living History. Orangeburg Massacre. 1968

Rudy, thank you for this reminder of our history.  Black and Latino\Hispanic history in the U.S. is not taught exactly as these incidents occur, unless the ‘narrative’ is controlled by us.  This is one event that happened in our lifetime that we must share.

History is repeating itself in one form or another with current events in 2024.  Events repeating themselves from the 1960’s to 2024.

We are human, humane, and humanitarians.

Peace be with you. 

Charles D. Sharp
Chair\CEO Black Emergency Managers Association International (BEMA Int)

 Orangeburg Massacre

The Orangeburg Massacre was a shooting of student protesters that took place on February 8, 1968, on the campus of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States. Nine Highway Patrolmen and one city police officer opened fire on a crowd of African American students, killing three and injuring twenty-eight. The shootings were the culmination of a series of protests against racial segregation at a local bowling alley, marking the first instance of police killing student protestors at an American university.

Two days before the shootings, student activists had been arrested for a sit-in at the segregated All-Star Bowling Lane. When a crowd of several hundred Claflin and South Carolina State College (State College) students gathered outside the bowling alley to protest the arrests, police dispersed the crowd with billy clubs. Students requested permission to hold a march downtown and submitted a list of demands to city officials. The request for a march was denied, but city officials agreed to review the demands. As tensions in Orangeburg mounted over the next few days, Governor Robert McNair ordered hundreds of National Guardsmen and Highway Patrol officers to the city to keep the peace. On the night of February 8, students from both colleges and Wilkinson High School started a bonfire at the front of State College's campus. When police moved to put out the fire, students threw debris at them, including a piece of a wooden banister that injured an officer. Several minutes later, at least nine patrolmen and one city police officer opened fire on the crowd of students. Dozens of fleeing students were wounded; Sam Hammond, Henry Smith, and Delano Middleton were later pronounced dead at the Orangeburg Regional Hospital.

In the aftermath of the killings, the bowling alley and most remaining whites-only establishments in Orangeburg were desegregated. Federal prosecutors charged nine patrolmen with deprivation of rights under color of law by firing on the demonstrators, but they were acquitted in the subsequent trial. The state of South Carolina charged one of the protestors, Cleveland Sellers, with several riot charges. He was convicted on charges relating to events two days before the massacre. Sellers received a full pardon in 1993. In 2001, Jim Hodges became the first governor to make a formal apology for the massacre.


The South Carolina State College (State College) entered the 1968–1969 school year having just undergone a major change in administration. For a decade, students had engaged in sporadic protests against college president Brenner Turner.[1] Turner was a conservative on civil rights and had maintained good relations with the white state government by taking a hard line against student participation in the civil rights movement.[a] But when a prolonged boycott of classes provoked an intervention from the governor, Turner eventually resigned in the spring of 1968.[2] State College was placed under an interim president who had lifted many of the restrictions on student activism, including allowing political clubs to operate on campus. The two most important of these were a chapter of the NAACP and the Black Awareness Coordinating Committee (BACC).[3] The NAACP chapter took a moderate stance and had over 300 members.[b] The BACC was much smaller—its membership hovered around twenty students—and represented students who embraced black pride and were interested in black power.[4][5] To the white community and black middle class, the creation of the BACC was ominous. They associated black power with the radical rhetoric of the new Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) leaders such as Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown. This view was reinforced when a SNCC organizer, Cleveland Sellers, arrived in Orangeburg in October.[5][6] In his autobiography, Sellers wrote that he had returned to his home state because "I believed I could develop a movement by focusing attention on the problems of the poor blacks in South Carolina."[7] The Orangeburg elites viewed Sellers as an outside agitator who was there to stir up trouble.[8]

There were several ongoing sources of racial tension at State College and in the surrounding city. An independent committee had been set up after Turner's resignation to investigate how conditions at the college could be improved, but the board of trustees had still not formally accepted their findings.[9] Despite a wide disparity in funding between State College and white colleges in South Carolina, in January, Governor McNair announced that he was rejecting State College's request for a budget increase.[c][11] Orangeburg had not yet seen the same civil rights reforms as most areas in the south. Many institutions remained segregated, including doctors' offices, entertainment venues, and the Orangeburg Regional Hospital. Political offices remained beyond the reach of black citizens, in part because the city boundaries were gerrymandered to exclude blacks.[3]

…..To read full WIFIPEDIA article, references, and photos go to…

Rudy Arredondo 
Latino Farmers & Ranchers International, Inc. 

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