Students, community march for 50th anniversary of Orangeburg Massacre
Orangeburg, S.C. (WACH) -- It has been 50 years since three students were killed in a massacre in Orangeburg.
Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond (both South Carolina State students), and Delano Middleton (a Wilkinson High school student) were killed after protesting for the desegregation of a local bowling alley.
Today, students of SCSU, along with the community, reenacted the marches that took the lives of those three men.
They were joined by family of Middleton, Menika Briggman (cousin) and Zachary Middleton (great nephew).
"I hope that people looking at the Orangeburg Massacre today will see it as an opportunity to reflect, to interact with the different written works on the massacre, and seek...hope it doesn't happen again," said Middleton.
He and Briggman have been attending the ceremony for most of their lives. They say they see the memorials as not only an opportunity to honor their late family members, but to empower the youth in their own efforts to seek equal rights.]
"The actual massacre really started days earlier, at the Triangle Bowling Alley," said Middleton. "There's so much history that's just pregnant within those two or three days that led up to it."
And one man who attended the march was very familiar with that. His name was John Wesley Stroman, and he spearheaded the marches that preceding Monday through Wednesday before the massacre took place.
He also knew Henry Smith personally.
"Me and Henry Smith was very close," said Stroman. "Smith was quiet, real good fellow. His word was his honor. When he say something, and he said he was going to be at something, he'd be there.
The event began at 4:30 and was put together by SCSU's student government association. They marched from the bowling alley to campus grounds, stopping along the way to hear several speakers...ending with a word from Stroman.
"It's time for them to take the gavel and do what they need to do because the fight's not over," said Stroman.
Several other events are planned for the upcoming days, including a memorial ceremony honoring the men who lost their lives.