South Carolina Legislator Calling for an Investigation of the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre at the State’s Historically Black University

Representative J. David Weeks of the South Carolina House of Representatives has introduced legislation calling for an official state investigation of the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre. In February 1968 students at historically black South Carolina State University mounted civil rights protests against a bowling alley that refused to admit blacks. State police were called in. Shots were fired and three black students were killed. Another 27 students were injured. Nine black police officers were charged in the incident but all were acquitted. Cleveland Sellers, then a senior at South Carolina State, was the only person convicted of a crime. He was sentenced to a year in prison for inciting a riot. Sellers, now a professor of history and director of the black studies program at the University of South Carolina, was pardoned in 1993.

Weeks’ legislation calls for the establishment of a five-member commission with subpoena powers. The bill has 25 cosponsors in the South Carolina House, all but one of whom are black.