Tragedy at Orangeburg: 25 Years Later, Part 4: Conclusion
The conclusion to the program.
Dean Livingston, the former editor of the Orangeburg Times & Democrat, discusses the difficulty that he and Kent Krell of the Associated Press had in putting the story together, and author Jack Bass discusses the fact that the media did not investigate the story well, and that the way the story came out was misleading. He cites several examples.
Cleveland Sellers was considered to be an outsider, an instigator, but he grew up near Orangeburg. He faced a battery of charges, and was convicted of riot charges and went to prison. None of the charges were legitimate.
Several weeks following the shootings, hundreds of students from S.C. State and other campuses converged on the State House to present a petition of grievances. Ten days later, Gov. McNair announced that he would recommend a $6.5 million bond issue for S.C. State College. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP called upon Gov. McNair to acknowledge that the patrolmen made a mistake, that they shot without any gunfire coming from the campus, and that it was a tragic error, and that South Carolina wants to start all over again.
Dr. Maceo Nance states that Gov. McNair was a victim, that he wasn't aware of the gravity of the situation until it was too late.
A suit brought by the U.S. Justice Department against the nine Highway Patrolmen found the defendants not guilty. The case was difficult in that the defense was self-defense and if the patrolmen believed their lives were in danger, then they were not guilty of the crime.