Orangeburg Massacre: South Carolina State University Students Who Just Wanted to Bowl (Killed in 1968)

2 Posted by - October 2, 2018 - Injustices, LATEST POSTS, Racism

The occurred on February 8, . The shooting of the young protestors were by South Carolina Highway Patrol officers in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The group of African-American males were demonstrating against racial segregation at a local bowling alley were they were not allowed to patron and bowl. The group consisted of about 150 protestors. Three of the young males were killed and twenty-eight others injured.

Before the massacre took place several African-American leaders tried to convince Harry K. Floyd, owner of the bowling alley to allow Blacks in the establishment. But, Floyd refused to desegregate; and as a result protest began in February 1968. On February 5 1968, a group of students from South Carolina State University entered the All-Star bowling alley and left peacefully when asked to leave by the owner. The following night more students returned led by John Stroman and entered the All-Star bowling alley once again. However, this time Police were waiting for them  and several students were arrested including Stroman.

When other students heard about the arrests more of them started showing up at the bowling alley. Soon the protestors grew angry and broke a window at the alley. Police began beating student protestors, (men and women) with clubs, and that night eight students were sent to the hospital. The next few days the tension escalated in the city of Orangeburg. The students submitted a list of demands that consisted of integration and a call to eliminate discrimination. The Governor of South Carolina, Robert E. McNair, called in the National Guard after making the comment, “black power advocates were running wild in the community.” Hundreds of students gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University to demonstrate against the continued segregation at the bowling alley.


February 8, 1968 the students started a bonfire at the front of the school’s campus. While the police were trying to put the fire out one of the officers were injured by a “thrown object.” After that happened, South Carolina Highway Patrol Officers began firing into the crowd of around 150 protestors. Eight Patrol Officers fired carbines, shotguns, and revolvers at the group, which lasted around 10 to 15 seconds. Twenty-eight people were injured in the shooting; most of which were shot in the back as they were running away, and three African-American men were killed.

The police later stated in their defense, “they believed they were under attack by small fire arms.” The newspapers began reporting that “about 200 Negros gathered and began sniping with what sounded like “at least one automatic, a shotgun and other small caliber weapons”, as well as throwing bricks and bottles at the police. However, the Black students stood by what they said in the beginning. ” they did not fire at the police officers, but threw objects and insulted the men”. Police never had evidence they were being attacked or fire arms were being used by the protestors.

The Governor again blamed the deaths on outside Black Power leaders who he believed were agitators of the whole situation from the beginning. It was also told to the press that the incident happened off campus which was untrue. The federal government brought charges against the state patrolmen but they all were acquitted. In 1970, the activist Cleveland Sellers was convicted of a charge of riot related events held at the bowling alley and received 7-months in state prison but was released early. Twenty-five years later, Sellers was officially pardoned by the governor of South Carolina.



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