SC State dedicates monument to victims of Orangeburg Massacre

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 9:11 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2022 at 8:30 PM EST
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina State University commemorated the 54th anniversary Tuesday of a deadly shooting at a 1968 Civil Rights protest that has come to be known as the Orangeburg Massacre.

The monument features busts of the three students killed in the shooting: Delano Middleton, Henry Smith, and Samuel Hammond.

The shooting followed days of protests focusing on an Orangeburg bowling alley whose owner refused to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would have opened the doors to anyone who wanted to come.

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. 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 Middleton, Smith, and Hammond and wounding 28.

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 Orangeburg Massacre is often overlooked in the story of African Americans who struggled to make the world better during the Civil Rights Movement,” SC State Interim President Alexander Conyers said. “All of us benefit today from the courage and sacrifices of the people who made their voices heard that day in 1968.”

Conyers said SC State has “a sacred duty to further the message” as the nation continues working toward “social justice for all Americans 54 years later.”

“This year’s commemoration is especially important, as we are permanently enshrining the faces of Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond and Delano Middleton on our campus in honor of their ultimate sacrifices,” he said.

The keynote speaker for the event will be noted civil rights activist, educator and Orangeburg Massacre survivor Dr. Cleveland Sellers Jr.

Sellers, who was wounded in the melee, was the only person convicted of a crime from the events leading up to and including the massacre. Nine state patrolmen charged with using excessive force by the federal government were acquitted.

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