South Carolina State University will commemorate the 54th anniversary of the Orangeburg Massacre by dedicating a new monument featuring busts of three young men killed following a 1968 civil rights demonstration near campus.

“The Orangeburg Massacre is often overlooked in the story of African Americans who struggled to make the world better during the civil rights movement,” S.C. State Interim President Alexander Conyers said. “All of us benefit today from the courage and sacrifices of the people who made their voices heard that day in 1968.

“We at S.C. State have a sacred duty to further the message as our nation still works toward social justice for all Americans 54 years later,” Conyers said. “This year’s commemoration is especially important, as we are permanently enshrining the faces of Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond and Delano Middleton on our campus in honor of their ultimate sacrifices.”

On the night of Feb. 8, 1968, three students were killed and 28 others were injured when S.C. Highway Patrol troopers opened fire on a crowd of protesters following three nights of escalating racial tension over efforts to desegregate the All-Star Triangle Bowl.

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South Carolina State College students Henry Smith and Samuel Hammond, along with Wilkinson High School student Delano Middleton, were killed.

The event has come to be known as the Orangeburg Massacre.

S.C. State’s commemoration will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8. The ceremony will begin at Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium and later move to the monument.

The keynote speaker will be retired Voorhees College President Dr. Cleveland Sellers Jr.

Sellers, a protester who was wounded, was the only person ever convicted of a crime in connection with the Orangeburg Massacre. He was pardoned by Gov. Carroll Campbell in 1993.

The Feb. 8 ceremony also will bring the eighth-annual awarding of the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Social Justice Award. The recipients are the South Carolina State College Class of 1971 and Gloria Pyles, Title III director at S.C. State.

The university recently expanded the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Legacy Plaza, a memorial site on the campus, to include a new monument enshrined with bronze likenesses of the three men.

Sculpted by internationally known artist Dr. Tolupe Filani, chair of visual and performing arts at S.C. State, the bronze busts will be mounted for the Feb. 8 dedication.

The semicircular monument was designed by architect Bob Probst and built by AOS Specialties Contractors. The project was funded by S.C. State’s Title III Program.

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