53rd commemoration of the Orangeburg Massacre events begin Thursday

South Carolina News

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCBD) – The Orangeburg and South Carolina communities planned a virtual commemoration for the historic events that lead up to the Orangeburg Massacre in 1968.

On February 8, 1968, after three nights of racial tension over the efforts by students of then SC State College, Claflin College and others to desegregate the local bowling alley, three students were killed and 28 other injured when highway patrolman opened fire in unarmed protesters on the SC State campus.

With the theme “Erasing Racism and Constructing Equity (E-RACE),” this year’s virtual events will explore how the events of 1968 are linked to social justice efforts in 2021 and how to progress moving forward.

Events begin Thursday at 5 p.m. with “UNHEARD: The Female Voices of The Orangeburg Massacre” a panel discussion with the women who served integral roles in the events leading up to the massacre and after.

You can register for the event here.

Then, Monday, February 8th, at 11 a.m. prominent civil rights attorney Justin Bamberg will serve as the guest speaker for the 53rd Commemorative Ceremony. To register for this event, click here.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, a private wreath laying and memorial flame lighting ceremony will be held at the Smith Hammond Middleton Legacy Plaza, where a monument stands as a tribute to the fatally wounded SC State students, both 19 year-old Henry Smith and Samuel Hammond, and the 17-year-old Wilkinson High School student, Delano Middleton.

This year’s event comes as a precursor to a new initiative aimed at eradicating racism that will be unveiled by the university.  University president James E. Clark will announce the establishment of the E-RACE Center. 

The Eradicating Racism and Constructing Equity (E-RACE) Center of Excellence and Justice will address all aspects of social injustice and racism, both systemic and individual, through research, teaching, training, and service. 

“The Orangeburg Massacre was one of the defining moments in the fight for justice for people of color all over the nation,” said University President James E. Clark.  “Given this University’s legacy and roots in the Civil Rights movement, we are well-positioned to take on a prominent role in the fight for equity and justice.”

These virtual events will be streamed on the SC State University’s and the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium’s Facebook pages.

For more information, contact Davion Petty at dpetty@scsu.edu.

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