Feb. 7, 2020
3 DEAD IN ORANGEBURG FEBRUARY 8, 1968
On February 8, 1968 three men were killed protesting against a segregated bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Samuel Hammond Jr., Henry Smith (both South Carolina State University sudents), and Delano Middleton, a student at the local Wilkinson High School. This incidence of violent outrage by the South Carolina State Storm Troopers for which none of the illegal law enforcement agents were ever prosecuted.
There was never a song written during the time of the event like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s song about the murders of 4 students at Kent State University In 1970. That song Ohio was one of the most played songs of the 1970s’. The song Ohio was even re-recorded by the Isley Brothers for the R&B market. There was national outrage of the Kent State killings but killings in Orangeburg never registered on the scale of outrage by this nation’s media.
This horrendous act of murder in Orangeburg started a cycle of violence that continued in 1968 with the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. in April, 1968 and Robert Kennedy in June, 1968. Can you imagine being murdered simply because you wanted to have the opportunity to bowl? How irrelevant that loss of life was. There is no doubt that these 3 young black men simply loss their lives because of the color of their skins. The outrage that generated a national commission from the Kent State University murders in 1970 never caught the attention of a democratic president in 1968. Lyndon Johnson hadn’t made his decision not to run for re-election yet. He would however make that decision within weeks but it wasn’t made because of racial tensions in the south but antiestablishment tensions about the war in Vietnam.
Hey, they shouldn’t have protested Mr. Harry’s bowling establishment. He simply didn’t want black folks enjoying themselves in his presence. This song was written and performed 40 years after the atrocities of February 8, 1968.