History Channel documentary, "1968", looks at turbulent year, Orangeburg Massacre

Thursday, December 6, 2007

On Sunday, Dec. 9, The History Channel will debut a new two-hour documentary, 1968 with Tom Brokaw, that focuses on a pivotal year in American history and includes interviews and footage related to the civil rights era tragedy known as the “Orangeburg Massacre.”

On Feb. 8, 1968, after three nights of escalating racial tension over efforts by students of then-SC State College and others to desegregate the local All-Star Bowling Lanes, three students were killed and 27 others were injured when S.C. Highway Patrolmen opened fire on a crowd of unarmed protesters at the head of campus.

The sacrifice of 18-year-old SC State students Henry R. Smith and Samuel Hammond Jr., 17-year-old high school student Delano B. Middleton and the survivors is commemorated each year by the campus community. The University's primary indoor athletic facility, completed in 1968, bears the name Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center in their honor.

The shootings mark one of the least remembered chapters in U.S. civil rights history, overshadowed by the successive blows of that turbulent year – the April assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the rioting that followed; the June slaying of Robert F. Kennedy; and the street battles around the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August.

1968 with Tom Brokaw explores the significance of that turbulent year and the way it continues to affect the American landscape. Tom Brokaw offers his perspective on the era and shares the rich personal odysseys of some of the people who lived through that chaotic time, along with the stories of younger people now experiencing its aftershocks. Includes archival footage and interviews with former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who was talking to King when he was assassinated and rushed to his side to try to staunch the wound; Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, who wrestled RFKs’ assassin to the ground; and Arlo Guthrie, best known for his song “Alice’s Restaurant.”

1968 with Tom Brokaw debuts on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 9 p.m. EDT on The History Channel.