Orangeburg Massacre survivors remember day they protested

By Gregory Woods

ORANGEBURG, S. C. (WCIV) -- A community gathered{} Saturday to remember what is known as one of the nation's first civil rights tragedies to happen on a college campus.

Forty-six years ago, students at Claflin and South Carolina State universities protested against Orangeburg's only bowling alley after owners refused to serve black people.

The protest ended in a deadly shootout, known today as the Orangeburg Massacre.

Sam Nails is one of the massacre's survivors. He said his college years were filled with happy memories except for the day he and a group of other students decided to protest. "One of the young men put his hands on the glass door. The glass door fell out and the National Guard came out swinging," he said.

Those who attended Saturday's ceremony heard stories from the survivors of how National Guard troops chased students back to campus. "I ran and jumped behind a brick wall and the bullets were flying off that wall," said Nails. "I just happened to look up and see that they shot those three guys, and I said, 'Oh hell, they're going to kill him.'"

Samuel Hammond, Henry Smith and Delano Middleton were killed that day.

Students who attended the ceremony said while those men may be dead, they are far from forgotten.

"Being a criminal justice major I feel like what I can learn from them is to stand up for what you believe in and be a man of{} integrity that actually helps the community," said Devern Coleman, a student at SC State.

As for Nails, he said he's just thankful the students who attend SC State today get to enjoy something his generation never had.

"Because of that incident, we now have a 16-lane bowling alley on campus," said Nails.

Nails said it serves as a sign that the fight was worth the struggle.



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