Two Upstate friends recall Orangeburg Massacre 50 years later

Orangeburg Massacre news article. (2/5/18 FOX Carolina)

The coffee is hot and the conversation is rich with history. There is more than 50 years of friendship between Lloyd Walker and Samuel Feemster. They met at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.

"It allowed me to get my basic education," Walker said.

Teachers and the school taught them tough lessons about life.

"We felt that we should have the freedom to go bowling or go to the restaurants," Walker said.

The segregated South sparked student protests; one in Orangeburg at the All-Star Bowling Alley.

"We had a white guy who was there that we sent in there and they let him go bowl, but when the black kids went, they were denied entrance," Walker said.

Feemster protested outside the bowling alley as police and state troopers lined the street.

"Someone was pushed into a glass window. When that glass window broke, people started to run and move out of the way. Cops got excited and they started swinging those clubs," Feemster said. "There were some people who got really beaten up bad that night."

The next night, February 8, 1968, Walker says he, his friend Henry Smith, whom everyone called "Smitty", and others hung around a bonfire on campus. However, Walker did not feel well.

"I said 'look I'm going to go to the infirmary and then I'm going to go to the dorm.' Then in about two or three minutes, I walked to the infirmary- in there and I heard these explosions," he said. "It didn't sound like gunshots, but explosions all at one time- boom boom, boom boom."

Moments later, he says the infirmary filled with students who had gunshot wounds.

"Blood, bodies, blood everywhere," Walker said. "Smitty, who was close by got killed."

Feemster made it to his dorm when he heard shots.

"We sat on the floor. We didn't want to be in the windows because we were afraid they were marching onto campus," Feemster said.

He knew Samuel Hammond, Jr., another student witnesses say state troopers killed.

"Sam played football and he was a popular guy," Feemster said.

The other victim, Delano Middleton, was a high school student.

"He was waiting on his mother go get off work- she worked on campus," Feemster said.

The conversation over coffee brewed up memories. Some of those memories are painful and some are powerful.

"That was the most traumatic thing I've ever gone through," Walker said.

Feemster says the event changed his life.

"It's very important for us to remember our past and the sacrifices that people made," he said.

Feemster says he also has a message for his family and for young people.

"Don't go protesting or marching in the street unless you are willing to die for what you're going to do," he said.

The event is now known as the Orangeburg Massacre and February 8, will mark its 50th anniversary. Walker and Feemster will head back to campus where they learned tough life lessons. They will honor those killed in remembrance of the event.

Copyright 2018 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you