Students killed in segregation protest


The Allstar Bowling Lane
Date: 
Thu, 1968-02-08

*On this date in 1968, the Orangeburg Massacre occurred. Three South Carolina State students were killed and 27 injured during a fourth night of segregation protest in Orangeburg, SC.

The All Star Bowling Lane, Orangeburg, South Carolina's only bowling alley played a pivotal role in the "Orangeburg Massacre" on the campus of South Carolina State College. That year, the segregated bowling alley was a rarity in Orangeburg because most public places in the city were integrated. Since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, local Black leaders and members of the white business community had tried to persuade the All Star to reconcile. Their efforts and simultaneous appeals to the U.S. Justice Department failed. All Stars’ manager claimed that bowling alleys were not covered under the Act.

Local African-Americans argued that since All Star had a snack bar, it was certainly covered under the Act specifically, under the interstate commerce provision in the public accommodations section. On February 6, a group of Black students from nearby South Carolina State and Claflin Colleges came to the bowling alley and refused to leave. The next night, another group returned and 15 were arrested. On February 8th, students started a bonfire on the state college's campus. Authorities moved in to put it out, and one officer was injured by a piece of a railing that was thrown at him. The crowd facing the officers began to grow, and then the shooting began because a highway patrolman fired his carbine in the air a couple of times, intending it as warning shots, and others started shooting as well.

Three were killed, Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond, SCSU students, and 17 year old Delano Middleton; a local high school student. While the student demonstrators worked their way back to the colleges, they broke car and store windows, and Governor Robert E. McNair mobilized a National Guard unit. Nine Highway Patrol officers faced federal charges in connection with the shootings. All were acquitted. The "Orangeburg Massacre," between students and police was the most violent incident in South Carolina's civil rights history and were typical of the tense times in the period leading up to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Early in 2001, the school held a ceremony honoring the victims of the shooting.

Reference:
The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York
ISBN 0-8160-3289-0

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