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Remembering The Orangeburg Massacre of 1968
2/3/2016 4:13:43 PM

South Carolina National Guard Troops arrive in Orangeburg on the night of February 8, 1968. (photo by Bill Barley)

(left to right) Three students, Henry Ezekial Smith, Samuel Ephesians Hammonds Jr. & Delano Herman Middleton were murdered during the Orangeburg Massacre of 1968.

Rev. Joseph Darby

Cleveland Sellers
One of the nation’s first and most horrific tragedies of the Civil Rights Movement occurred nearly 50 years ago at then-South Carolina State College. The senseless tragedy known as the Orangeburg Massacre took place Feb. 8, 1968 on the campus.

On that fateful evening, three young men, Samuel Hammond Jr., Delano Middleton and Henry Smith, were fatally wounded and 28 students were wounded after S.C. Highway Patrolmen fired into a crowd of students and others on the SC State campus. The student activists gathered that evening in protest after three nights of escalating racial tension over efforts to desegregate All Star Bowling Lanes, which was located in downtown Orangeburg.
To honor the legacy of the Orangeburg Massacre, SC State University will hold the 48th Orangeburg Massacre Commemoration Ceremony at 3 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 in Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium. The Reverend Joseph Darby, presiding elder of the Beaufort District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), will serve as keynote speaker.

As a minister and civil rights activist, Darby is committed to a life of service. A fourth generation minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Darby served four congregations in the midlands of South Carolina, including the historic Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A life member of the NAACP, Darby has held statewide leadership roles in the association and currently serves as first vice president of the Charleston Branch NAACP. Darby co-authored the 1999 national NAACP resolution for economic sanctions that led to the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the dome and legislative chambers of the South Carolina State House. Darby is a sought after political commentator who has appeared on local, national and international media outlets, including CNN and the BBC.

The program’s theme, “Social Change Inspires Freedoms,” seeks to empower attendees to courageously stand up against some of the world’s greatest injustices to help make positive changes for others, whether locally or globally.

In keeping with the event’s theme, the university will recognize Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers Jr. and the Orangeburg Chapter of the NAACP as recipients of the 2016 Smith-Hammond-Middleton Social Justice award. This year marks the second that the university will present the award to an individual or organization that has demonstrated a commitment to using their influence to eliminate injustices.

Sellers, president of Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina, will be acknowledged for his long standing commitment to social justice. The Orangeburg branch of the NAACP will be honored for its ongoing work to eradicate racial discrimination more than a century after the organization’s founding in New York.
The program will also feature community leaders including Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler and Orangeburg County Development Commission Chairman Kenneth E. Middleton. University Interim President Dr. W. Franklin Evans and Claflin University President Dr. Henry Tisdale will both deliver a response following Darby’s keynote.

The SC State University Brass Ensemble and Claflin University’s Concert Choir will perform at the program. The program will conclude at the Orangeburg Massacre Legacy Plaza with the lighting of the memorial flame, which will be lit by family members of the deceased victims.
The annual ceremony is free and open to the public. 

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