From Wed Feb 9 11:00:08 2005
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005 16:38:39 -0600 (CST)
From: Randy <>
Article: 204188
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Remember the Orangeburg Massacre

Oread Daily, [8 February 2005]

Thirty-five years ago, on Feb. 8, 1968, three black students were killed by South Carolina policemen in protests on the campus of the predominantly black South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, S.C. Twenty-seven others were wounded. Nine policemen were indicted but all were ultimately set free. This tragedy became known as the Orangeburg Massacre.

Black students were protesting the segregation policies of the only bowling alley in town. The exclusionary policies of the establishment's owner had come to symbolize the racist color line that still ran through the South. The Black Awareness Coordinating Committee at South Carolina State University led the campaign. The group had already picketed and met with the mayor but had gotten nowhere. The authorities cordoned off the campus during one heated night of protest, and students built a bonfire and held a vigil.

In an effort to end the protest, police fired live ammunition into the crowd. At the end of the melee, three unarmed black men were dead: Henry Smith, 20; Samuel Hammond, 19; and high-school student Delano Middleton, 17. Their names are in very few history books, and they certainly did not set out to become martyrs, but their untimely deaths represent an important chapter in the untold story of the black freedom struggle in the United States.

When gunfire felled students again two years later at Kent State University in Ohio, banner headlines carried the news to every corner of the globe. But the Orangeburg tragedy prompted little news coverage in national media, and most of that was superficial and distorted. The victims at Kent State were white students protesting an unpopular war. At Orangeburg, the dead and wounded were black students seeking equal treatment and opportunity. Most reporters were willing to accept without question the official version peddled by state and federal authorities on the scene. The students, parents, the president of the college, and members of the faculty had a different story to tell, but no one wanted to hear. When most Americans think of violence during the social movements of the 1960s, they think of several specific incidents: the shooting of white students at Kent State University in 1970, the attacks on civil-rights protesters in Alabama (Birmingham in 1963 and Selma in 1965) and the murder of three young civil-rights workers in Mississippi in 1964.

The reality is that violence against the black freedom movement in the South throughout the 1960s was much more common than most people realize. The Orangeburg massacre—as it is known by victims and local activists—is just one of the lesser-known examples of such violence. By the late 1960s, beatings, shootings and the constant threat of violence were a part of life for Southern organizers.

On Feb. 8, 2003, Gov. Mark Sanford surprised many by issuing a formal apology. I think it's appropriate to tell the African-American community in South Carolina that we don't just regret what happened in Orangeburg 35 years ago - we apologize for it, Sanford said in a statement.

But still, no formal state investigation of the events of that night has taken place.

Last night Civil rights leaders gathered at South Carolina State University to remember the 37th anniversary of the Massacre.

Tonight South Carolina State University will hold a special program called Veil of Secrecy: The Orangeburg Massacre, at 7:30pm at the Martin Luther King, Junior, Auditorium. Sources: Progressive Media Project, Mercer University Press, WIS News 10 (South Carolina), Orangeburg Times Democrat