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45 years later, survivor says ‘forgiveness sets us free’

forgiveness on Miscellaneous - Jordan Simmons III vividly remembers what has become known as the “Orangeburg Massacre,” but he refuses to be bitter despite being shot in the neck on Feb. 8, 1968.

He would rather spend his time urging peace and unity among future generations.

“What we must do as survivors, along with others concerned about our nation’s well-being, is throw our collective resources into preventing future occurrences even remotely comparable to the ‘Orangeburg Massacre,’” Simmons said Friday.

“Let us remember that revenge imprisons, forgiveness sets us free,” he said.

On that fateful night 45 years ago, 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.

South Carolina State College sophomore Henry Smith, S.C. State freshman Samuel Hammond Jr. and Wilkinson High School student Delano B. Middleton died in the incident.

Simmons was among the survivors, victims’ families and the Orangeburg community who congregated on the campus of South Carolina State University Friday afternoon to observe the 45th anniversary of the event. He was the featured speaker.

“I have been blessed with a mother who ventured out that night on Feb. 8, 1968, and ran the gauntlet of law enforcement personnel along with my 17-year-old brother to get to me at a hospital in Orangeburg. Her number one concern for me was that if I should die that night, she wanted to make sure that I did not harbor malice or anger in me towards whosoever it was that shot me,” Simmons said. “I didn’t then, nor now.”

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