In the event you need a review, see “Two Events, Two Perspectives,” this site posted April 17, 2021.
The commemoration of South Carolina’s deadliest day during the civil rights movement went virtual this 2021 year. That virtual event recognized three students killed in the incident 53 years ago. COVID-19 prevented an in-person ceremony for 2021. However, a wreath was placed, and a memorial flame lit, at the Smith Hammond Middleton Legacy Plaza.
The confrontation began when the All-Star Bowling Lanes refused to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Then Governor Robert McNamara sent 1,000 troops to manage the face-off.
On February 8, 1968, state troopers fired into the demonstrators as they protested the bowling alley segregation. Henry Smith, Delano Middleton, and Samuel Hammond died in the incident. Twenty-eight others were wounded. No state troopers were seriously injured. An FBI investigation led to charges against nine troopers, but a jury of 10 whites and two blacks acquitted them.
Fifty years later, 2018, one spokesperson labeled Orangeburg as the most unrecognized event in the Civil Rights Movement.
Governor Jim Hodges, the only South Carolina govnor to visit the site of the confrontation, spoke openly about the events, lessons to be learned, and actions moving forward.
If You Walk Long Enough, historical fiction by Nancy Hartney, highlights several events and character reactions that happened during the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s which continue to reoccur. The more things change, the more they remain the same.