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"O” is for Orangeburg Massacre (February 8, 1968)

“O” is for Orangeburg Massacre (February 8, 1968). On the night of February 8, 1968, police gunfire left three young men dying and twenty-seven wounded on the campus of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg. The shooting occurred after three nights of escalating racial tension over efforts by South Carolina State students and others to desegregate a local bowling alley. After a patrolman was knocked down by a thrown object that bloodied his face, another patrolman fired a carbine into the air intended as a warning shot. Instead, it triggered a ten second fusillade of police gunfire. Exactly thirty-three years later, Governor Jim Hodges addressed an overflow crowd on campus, referring directly to the “Orangeburg Massacre”—an identifying term for the event that had been controversial—and called what happened “a great tragedy for our state.”

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.