Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Don't Forget The Past, Learn From It

38 Years ago today, the Orangeburg Massacre took place. I was 3 years old, a week away from turning 4. I do not remember this time in history. I only know what I have been told, what I have read and what I have researched. I do know that it was a wake up call for the citizens of South Carolina.

On February 8, 1968, 3 college students were murdered (not killed as the newspapers tell you) and 27 others were injured. Why you ask?

On February 8, 1968, the students of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC peacefully protested the segregation they faced at All Star Bowling Alley. The local bowling alley would not allow blacks in to enjoy a night out. State troopers opened fired on the protest. At the time, they said students threw bricks and fired shots at them, but no guns were ever found. Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton and Henry Smith were killed. God rest their souls.

These young people were protesting peacefully for what they believed in - A right, if I remember my history class, that is protected by the First Amendment. The Constitution of the United States says that we have the right to free speech - just what Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton and Henry Smith died for.

Today, we have people dying for what they believe in. We have people protesting for what they believe in. I have no problem with that. I totally and fully support anyone and everyone who expresses their beliefs peacefully. Everyone in this country has that right, any one in this world has that right as far as I am concerned.

We also have people telling us that we can not voice our opinion because it offends others. Fine, you have the right to say that. You do not, however; have the right to kill people, to destroy property because someone does not believe as you. This I have a problem with and I believe that the brave young people who gave their lives in Orangeburg would be speechless at what is happening now. What if Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton and Henry Smith had stayed home, what if they had not voiced their opinion. They gave their lives to make a difference. These young men gave their lives for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, they fought for what they believed in (in what I believe in). They fought PEACEFULLY. They were murdered by people not any different than the radicals today, people who are FRIGHTENED, people who are frightened by change. People who believe that oppression, control, destruction, pain are the only way of life. People who believe that the only way to remain in control, to remain in power is to destroy.

God Bless Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton and Henry Smith. God Bless them for their strength and their courage. May we be more like them, may the world be more like them.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

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