SC State pauses to remember martyrs of 1968 Orangeburg Massacre

Friday, February 2, 2007

ORANGEBURG, SC – The South Carolina State University campus community will pause on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, to commemorate the 39th anniversary of 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 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.

orangeburg massacre martyrs 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 Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Observance will be held on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, at 8 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium. Immediately following the program, there will be a silent march and lighting of a flame at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Monument. The monument is located in the courtyard across from Robert S. Wilkinson Hall. The memorial program and vigil are open to the public.

This year’s speakers will be one of the survivors, Dr Emma McCain, and state Representative Bakari T. Sellers. His father, Dr. Cleveland Sellers, also a survivor, was convicted of rioting during one of the protests in the nights prior to the shootings, becoming the only person ever convicted in protests in Orangeburg; he was later pardoned. His ordeal is recounted in his autobiography, The River of No Return.

The event’s occasion will be given by the winner of an annual oratorical contest sponsored by SC State, which will be held on Monday, Feb. 5, in the Kirkland W. Green Student Center.

The events surrounding the shooting are also detailed in the book, The Orangeburg Massacre, by journalists Jack bass and Jack Nelson.

Dr. Emma McCain is a professional counselor licensed by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists, and a nationally certified school counselor by the National Board of Certified Counselors.

McCain attended SC State and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Paine College; a master’s degree in sociology from American University; an Educational Specialist degree in counselor education from the University of South Carolina; and a Doctor of Education in educational leadership and change from Fielding Graduate University.

McCain is currently employed by the Richmond County (Georgia) Board of Education as a school counselor, where she provides comprehensive guidance programs for high school students who are academically talented in the health science and engineering fields. In addition to counseling, she serves as a sociology instructor at Augusta Technical College.

She is the author of Up From Between the Cracks: The Quest for Academic Success Following Grade Retention Among African American Students and two inspirational books – Clearing the Path: Making Room for God’s Man of Favor and How to Recognize a Deadbeat: 101 Red flags for Dating Christian Women.

McCain resides in Evans, Ga., and has two daughters, Nefertiti and Jasmine.

At age 22, newly elected state Representative Bakari T. Sellers (D-District 90) is the youngest member of the S.C. House of Representatives and the entire state legislature. Sellers represents citizens in Bamberg, Barnwell and Orangeburg Counties.

As a 21-year-old political novice, Sellers unseated a veteran lawmaker, who had served in the S.C. House for 24 years, in the June 2006 Democratic Primary. He assumed his duties in the state legislature in December 2006. In his two months in office, Sellers has already sponsored or co-sponsored 13 bills, including legislation to raise the minimum wage, provide earned income tax credits and limit interest rates charged by predatory lenders.

Sellers began his journey in the realm of politics by working for Sixth District Congressman and new House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and the southeastern regional director of the NAACP. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., he was elected student government association president and, by virtue of his position, served on the college’s Board of Trustees.

Raised in the town of Denmark, S.C., Sellers attended SC State’s Felton Laboratory School and is a graduate of the South Carolina public school system and a 2005 graduate of Morehouse College. He is currently a second-year law student at the University of South Carolina.

Sellers is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Cleveland Sellers.

For additional information, contact the Office of University Relations & Marketing at (803) 536-7061.