Academics, students and others will gather today for a three-day conference at the College of Charleston in South Carolina that is focused on a1960s-era campus shooting that was largely ignored and has been mostly forgotten, reports USA Today. The Orangeburg Massacre, as it is known, happened on Feb. 8, 1968, when white police in Orangeburg, S.C., opened fire on black students at South Carolina State College who were protesting against a segregated bowling alley. Thirty unarmed black students were shot by police. Three were killed.
“South Carolina State was the first time ever in the history of America that a college student had been killed on their campus for doing absolutely nothing,” says one of the students wounded that day, Cleveland Sellers, now president of Voorhees College in Denmark, S.C. What bothers The Orangeburg Massacre happened two years before the May 4, 1970, Kent State shootings, when National Guardsmen shot into an anti-war protest on the Ohio campus, killing four. Yet Orangeburg got little attention by comparison. “It’s still a sore spot for people here, when you talk about a massacre of students, how it never reached the level of a Kent State,” says Patricia Lessane, executive director of the Avery Research Center, which is hosting the conference.