Group to restore bowling alley, crux of Orangeburg Massacre 54 years ago

SC State to mark anniversary Tuesday
Source: Live 5
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 5:31 AM EST
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - A shuttered bowling alley at the center of a 1968 integration protest where state police killed three Black students is being remade into a civil rights center.

The National Park Service is helping a non-profit group renovate the All-Star Bowling Lanes, remaking it into a fully-functional bowling alley with a civil rights theme.

The killings, which came to be known as the Orangeburg Massacre, happened 54 years ago Tuesday.

That week, then-Gov. Robert McNair dispatched upwards of 1,000 National Guardsmen with rifles and tanks to support more than 100 members of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The week of the massacre, Gov. Robert McNair dispatched upwards of 1,000 National Guardsmen...
The week of the massacre, Gov. Robert McNair dispatched upwards of 1,000 National Guardsmen with rifles and tanks to S.C. State. (Source: WIS/File)

Protesters had gathered in an attempt to pressure the white owner of the All-Star Bowling Lanes into letting Black patrons use the lanes. Businessman Harry Floyd owned the bowling alley and refused to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would have opened the doors to anyone who wanted to come.

The owner of the All Star Bowling Lanes refused to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964,...
The owner of the All Star Bowling Lanes refused to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prompting protests.(WIS/File)

On the night of Feb. 8, 1968, tensions escalated on the South Carolina State Campus. Orders came to contain and keep the students on campus.

State troopers shot into a crowd of students, killing Delano Middleton, Henry Smith, and Samuel Hammond and wounding more than two dozen.

Henry Smith, Delano Middleton and Samuel Hammond were fatally shot during a protest on Feb. 8,...
Henry Smith, Delano Middleton and Samuel Hammond were fatally shot during a protest on Feb. 8, 1968. The incident became known as the Orangeburg Massacre.(Live 5/File)

The next year, Nine South Carolina Highway Patrolmen faced federal charges and would go on trial for the deaths of three students and wounding more than two dozen others.

They would be found not guilty.

South Carolina State will commemorate the 54th anniversary of the massacre by unveiling a monument featuring busts of the three young men killed.

The keynote speaker for the event is survivor Dr. Cleveland Sellers Jr.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this story. All rights reserved.