RESISTANCE CINEMA presents “SCARRED JUSTICE: THE ORANGEBURG MASSACRE” co-production of Northern Light Productions, the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and the National Black Programming Consortium, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Produced and Directed by Bestor Cram and Judy Richardson, 2009, 57 minutes
WHEN: Sunday September 27, 2009 1:15pm
WHERE: Community Church of NYC Gallery Room 28 East 35th st. @ Park ave.
ADMISSION: Free, donations appreciated
“SCARRED JUSTICE: THE ORANGEBURG MASSACRE 1968” brings to light one of the bloodiest tragedies of the Civil Rights era after four decades of deliberate denial. The killing of four white students at Kent State University in 1970 left an indelible stain on our national consciousness. But most Americans know nothing of the three black students killed at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg two years earlier. This scrupulously researched documentary finally offers the definitive account of that tragic incident and reveals the environment that allowed it to be buried for so long. It raises disturbing questions about how our country acknowledges its tortured racial past in order to make sense of its challenging present.
In 1968, Orangeburg was a typical Southern town still clinging to its Jim Crow traditions. Although home to two black colleges and a majority black population, economic and political power remained exclusively in the hands of whites. Growing black resentment and white fear provided the kindling; the spark came when a black Vietnam War veteran was denied access to a nearby bowling alley, one of the last segregated facilities in town. Three hundred protestors from South Carolina State College and Claflin University converged on the alley in a non-violent demonstration. A melee with the police ensued during which police beat two female students; the incensed students then smashed the windows of white-owned businesses along the route back to campus. With scenes of the destruction in Detroit and Newark fresh in their minds, Orangeburg’s white residents, businessmen and city officials feared urban terrorists were now in Orangeburg. The Governor sent in the state police and National Guard.
By the late evening of February 8th, army tanks and over 100 heavily armed law enforcement officers had cordoned off the campus; 450 more had been stationed downtown. About 200 students milled around a bonfire on S.C. State’s campus; a fire truck with armed escort was sent in. Without warning the crackle of shotgun fire shattered the cold night air. It lasted less than ten seconds. When it was over, twenty-eight students lay on State’s campus with multiple buckshot wounds; three others had been killed. Almost all were shot in the back or side. Students and police vividly describe what they experienced that night.