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A photographer has shared chilling images of a racist-owned bowling alley which became frozen in time when it was shut down 54 years ago, after a key Civil Rights battle was fought on the property.

All-Star Bowling Lanes was once owned by a man named Harry Floyd, whose refusal to desegregate led to the death of three young black men.

The bowling alley was built as part of a shopping center development in the city of Orangeburg, South Carolina, during the early 1960s. 

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, most of Orangeburg’s public accommodations soon desegregated. However, the management at the only bowling alley in town refused to do so.

The owner of All-Star Bowling Lanes, Floyd, claimed that his bowling alley was exempt from desegregation laws since it was private property; he argued that allowing black bowlers in would offend his long-time clientele.

A photographer has shared chilling images of a racist-owned bowling alley which became frozen in time when it was shut down 54 years ago, after a key Civil Rights battle was fought on the property

A photographer has shared chilling images of a racist-owned bowling alley which became frozen in time when it was shut down 54 years ago, after a key Civil Rights battle was fought on the property

A photographer has shared chilling images of a racist-owned bowling alley which became frozen in time when it was shut down 54 years ago, after a key Civil Rights battle was fought on the property

The owner of All-Star Bowling Lanes, Floyd (pictured), claimed that his bowling alley was exempt from desegregation laws since it was private property; he argued that allowing black bowlers in would offend his long-time clientele

The owner of All-Star Bowling Lanes, Floyd (pictured), claimed that his bowling alley was exempt from desegregation laws since it was private property; he argued that allowing black bowlers in would offend his long-time clientele

The owner of All-Star Bowling Lanes, Floyd (pictured), claimed that his bowling alley was exempt from desegregation laws since it was private property; he argued that allowing black bowlers in would offend his long-time clientele

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, most of Orangeburg’s public accommodations soon desegregated. However, Ford refused to do so - which was the catalyst of civil unrest in South Carolina. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, most of Orangeburg’s public accommodations soon desegregated. However, Ford refused to do so - which was the catalyst of civil unrest in South Carolina. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, most of Orangeburg’s public accommodations soon desegregated. However, Ford refused to do so – which was the catalyst of civil unrest in South Carolina. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

The tragic and violent history of South Carolina’s All-Star Bowling Lanes 

The bowling alley was built as part of a shopping center development in the city of Orangeburg, South Carolina, during the early 1960s. 

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, most of Orangeburg’s public accommodations soon desegregated. However, the management at the only bowling alley in town refused to do so. 

The owner of All-Star Bowling Lanes, Harry Floyd, claimed that his bowling alley was exempt from desegregation laws since it was private property; he argued that allowing black bowlers in would offend his long-time clientele. 

Floyd’s actions were the catalyst of civil unrest in South Carolina, and outraged many people in the town. 

Hundreds of enraged students from a nearby college showed up at the bowling alley to protest on February 8, and when one threw a rock at a police officer and hit him in the face, law enforcement opened fire on the crowd. 

31 young black people were shot, three of whom died – aged 17, 18, and 19.

The events of February 8 and the days leading up to it have been labelled as the Orangeburg Massacre, after which the bowling alley has sat abandoned. 

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Floyd’s actions were the catalyst of civil unrest in South Carolina, and outraged many people in the town.

Hundreds of angry students from a nearby college showed up at the bowling alley to protest on February 8, and when one threw a rock at a police officer and hit him in the face, law enforcement opened fire on the crowd.

31 young black people were shot, three of whom who died – aged 17, 18, and 19. The events of February 8 and the days leading up to it have been labelled as the Orangeburg Massacre, after which, the bowling alley shut down and has sat abandoned ever since. 

Now, photographer Leland Kent – who is well-known for capturing abandoned and forgotten places across the Southeast – has documented the remains of the historical and once-prestigious institution.

One image showed an old locker room, with bowling balls left deserted and gathering dust.

Another image showed bowling lanes covered in a layer of soot, having been nearly-untouched over the last five decades. 

Hundreds of enraged students from a nearby college showed up at the bowling alley (pictured in 1968) to protest on February 8, but when one threw a rock at a police officer and hit him in the face, law enforcement opened fire on the crowd

Hundreds of enraged students from a nearby college showed up at the bowling alley (pictured in 1968) to protest on February 8, but when one threw a rock at a police officer and hit him in the face, law enforcement opened fire on the crowd

Hundreds of enraged students from a nearby college showed up at the bowling alley (pictured in 1968) to protest on February 8, but when one threw a rock at a police officer and hit him in the face, law enforcement opened fire on the crowd

31 young black people were shot, three of whom died. The events of February 8 have been labelled as the Orangeburg Massacre, after which, the bowling alley has sat abandoned ever since. Police are pictured outside the bowling alley in 1968

31 young black people were shot, three of whom died. The events of February 8 have been labelled as the Orangeburg Massacre, after which, the bowling alley has sat abandoned ever since. Police are pictured outside the bowling alley in 1968

31 young black people were shot, three of whom died. The events of February 8 have been labelled as the Orangeburg Massacre, after which, the bowling alley has sat abandoned ever since. Police are pictured outside the bowling alley in 1968

Now, photographer Leland Kent - who is well-known for capturing deserted and forgotten places across the Southeast - has documented the remains of the historical and once-prestigious institution

Now, photographer Leland Kent - who is well-known for capturing deserted and forgotten places across the Southeast - has documented the remains of the historical and once-prestigious institution

Now, photographer Leland Kent – who is well-known for capturing deserted and forgotten places across the Southeast – has documented the remains of the historical and once-prestigious institution

One image showed an old locker room, with bowling balls left abandoned and gathering dust

One image showed an old locker room, with bowling balls left abandoned and gathering dust

One image showed an old locker room, with bowling balls left abandoned and gathering dust

Another image showed bowling lanes covered in a layer of soot, having been nearly-untouched over the last five decades

Another image showed bowling lanes covered in a layer of soot, having been nearly-untouched over the last five decades

Another image showed bowling lanes covered in a layer of soot, having been nearly-untouched over the last five decades

The bowling alley was built as part of a shopping center development in the city of Orangeburg, South Carolina, during the early 1960s

The bowling alley was built as part of a shopping center development in the city of Orangeburg, South Carolina, during the early 1960s

The bowling alley was built as part of a shopping center development in the city of Orangeburg, South Carolina, during the early 1960s

The bowling alley, which had 16 lanes in total, was situated between two schools – South Carolina State and Claflin College. S.C. State – which were both made up of mostly poor and middle-class black families.

For years, Ford’s segregationist policies infuriated local African-Americans in Orangeburg, as well as the students at the schools.

In 1966, S.C. State students were told they weren’t allowed to play at All-Star Bowling, despite the Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin years earlier.

And when the American Legion’s Little World Series was held in Orangeburg in 1967, a team with African-American members was also turned away. 

‘The conflict Floyd created by staying adamant in the face of his racist beliefs led to the Orangeburg Massacre,’ Kent said, while discussing the history behind his photographs.

‘From 1964 to 1968, many of the students from S.C. State and Claflin became involved in the civil rights movement and were determined to turn the tide of racism within their small town.’

It was situated between two schools - South Carolina State and Claflin College. S.C. State - which were both made up of mostly poor and middle-class black families

It was situated between two schools - South Carolina State and Claflin College. S.C. State - which were both made up of mostly poor and middle-class black families

It was situated between two schools – South Carolina State and Claflin College. S.C. State – which were both made up of mostly poor and middle-class black families

For years, Ford's segregationist policies infuriated local African-Americans in Orangeburg, as well as the students at both schools. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

For years, Ford's segregationist policies infuriated local African-Americans in Orangeburg, as well as the students at both schools. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

For years, Ford’s segregationist policies infuriated local African-Americans in Orangeburg, as well as the students at both schools. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

Local black leaders unsuccessfully tried to convince Floyd to desegregate for years, and they even filed an appeal with the U.S. Justice Department. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

Local black leaders unsuccessfully tried to convince Floyd to desegregate for years, and they even filed an appeal with the U.S. Justice Department. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

Local black leaders unsuccessfully tried to convince Floyd to desegregate for years, and they even filed an appeal with the U.S. Justice Department. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

By early 1968, 'tensions were reaching a boiling point,' the photographer explained, and John Stroman, a black S.C. State senior from Savannah, Georgia, who had a passion for bowling, decided to take action. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

By early 1968, 'tensions were reaching a boiling point,' the photographer explained, and John Stroman, a black S.C. State senior from Savannah, Georgia, who had a passion for bowling, decided to take action. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

By early 1968, ‘tensions were reaching a boiling point,’ the photographer explained, and John Stroman, a black S.C. State senior from Savannah, Georgia, who had a passion for bowling, decided to take action. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

He and roughly 40 students entered All-Star Bowling Lanes (pictured in 2022) to protest its whites-only policy. Authorities then closed the bowling alley for the night. The students went peacefully back to campus, but vowed to return

He and roughly 40 students entered All-Star Bowling Lanes (pictured in 2022) to protest its whites-only policy. Authorities then closed the bowling alley for the night. The students went peacefully back to campus, but vowed to return

He and roughly 40 students entered All-Star Bowling Lanes (pictured in 2022) to protest its whites-only policy. Authorities then closed the bowling alley for the night. The students went peacefully back to campus, but vowed to return

Local black leaders unsuccessfully tried to convince Floyd to desegregate for years, and they even filed an appeal with the U.S. Justice Department.

Unfortunately, their attempts ultimately failed to achieve anything since the Justice Department said it was unsure of the status of the alley under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

By early 1968, ‘tensions were reaching a boiling point,’ Kent explained, and John Stroman, a black S.C. State senior from Savannah, Georgia, who had a passion for bowling, decided to take action.

‘On Monday, February 5, 1968, a group of roughly 40 students – led by senior John Stroman – entered All-Star Bowling Lanes to protest its whites-only policy before Harry Floyd was able to bolt the door locked,’ Kent shared.

‘Every time the students touched a salt shaker or napkin holder, Floyd would throw it in the trash. When they deposited money in the jukebox, he unplugged it and gave them their money back.

‘After the students refused to leave, Floyd called the police and demanded they be arrested for trespassing.

‘Orangeburg police chief Roger Poston, who was convinced the situation could become explosive, ordered the bowling alley closed for the night. The students went peacefully back to campus, but vowed to return.’ 

The conflict didn’t end there. The news of Floyd’s refusal then ‘spread across both campuses like wildfire,’ which inspired even more students to get involved.

The conflict didn't end there. The news of Floyd's refusal 'spread across both campuses like wildfire,' said Kent, which inspired even more students to get involved. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

The conflict didn't end there. The news of Floyd's refusal 'spread across both campuses like wildfire,' said Kent, which inspired even more students to get involved. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

The conflict didn’t end there. The news of Floyd’s refusal ‘spread across both campuses like wildfire,’ said Kent, which inspired even more students to get involved. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

Protests continued in the days that followed, and when the protestors were met by 'heavily armed law enforcement officers,' things escalated even further. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

Protests continued in the days that followed, and when the protestors were met by 'heavily armed law enforcement officers,' things escalated even further. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

Protests continued in the days that followed, and when the protestors were met by ‘heavily armed law enforcement officers,’ things escalated even further. The abandoned bowling alley is pictured in 2022

'With at least 50 (some say as many as 100) law enforcement officers present, [the students] made repeated pleas for calm, but it was too late; the seeds of a riot had been sown,' Kent said of the incident. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

'With at least 50 (some say as many as 100) law enforcement officers present, [the students] made repeated pleas for calm, but it was too late; the seeds of a riot had been sown,' Kent said of the incident. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

‘With at least 50 (some say as many as 100) law enforcement officers present, [the students] made repeated pleas for calm, but it was too late; the seeds of a riot had been sown,’ Kent said of the incident. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

On February 8, roughly 120 National Guardsmen, state troopers, and local police carrying shotguns were present on the South Carolina State’s campus. An additional 450 troops were also stationed downtown. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

On February 8, roughly 120 National Guardsmen, state troopers, and local police carrying shotguns were present on the South Carolina State’s campus. An additional 450 troops were also stationed downtown. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

On February 8, roughly 120 National Guardsmen, state troopers, and local police carrying shotguns were present on the South Carolina State’s campus. An additional 450 troops were also stationed downtown. The bowling alley is pictured in 2022

Protests continued in the days that followed, and when the protestors were met by ‘heavily armed law enforcement officers,’ things escalated even further. 

‘The next night, on Tuesday, February 6, John Stroman and a group of students returned to the bowling alley for a second protest,’ recalled Kent.

‘This time, however, they found the doors shut and locked. Instead of encountering Harry Floyd, the group of young protestors was met in the parking lot by a group of heavily armed law enforcement officers, some carrying three-foot-long wooden riot batons.

‘The police asked the female students to go home and advised all remaining protestors to leave if they did not want to be arrested.

’15 students chose to stay, hoping their arrests would compel the issue’s resolution in court. As they were led away to awaiting patrol cars, an angry crowd gathered outside of the bowling alley.’

More students continued to storm the bowling alley, some armed with bricks obtained from a nearby construction site.

Kent explained, ‘As the word spread around town about the bowling alley unrest, tensions quickly escalated.

‘Expecting looting and violence, some store owners decided to arm themselves. South Carolina Governor Robert McNair, supposedly one of the more moderate governors of the Deep South, insisted “Black Power” leaders were inciting student unrest and called in the National Guard.

‘With at least 50 (some say as many as 100) law enforcement officers present, both Poston and Stroman made repeated pleas for calm, but it was too late; the seeds of a riot had been sown.

‘Several hundred students rallied, and a surge of angry students pressed against the bowling alley’s storefront, yelling insults and hurling fists.

After a student threw a rock at a police officer, another fired his gun in the air as a warning shot. Later claiming they feared the shot had been fired by a student, nine officers then opened fire. Police are pictured at the bowling alley in 1968

After a student threw a rock at a police officer, another fired his gun in the air as a warning shot. Later claiming they feared the shot had been fired by a student, nine officers then opened fire. Police are pictured at the bowling alley in 1968

After a student threw a rock at a police officer, another fired his gun in the air as a warning shot. Later claiming they feared the shot had been fired by a student, nine officers then opened fire. Police are pictured at the bowling alley in 1968

31 young black people were shot, three of whom who died - aged 17, 18, and 19. Abandoned bowling shoes are pictured in the desolate bowling alley

31 young black people were shot, three of whom who died - aged 17, 18, and 19. Abandoned bowling shoes are pictured in the desolate bowling alley

31 young black people were shot, three of whom who died – aged 17, 18, and 19. Abandoned bowling shoes are pictured in the desolate bowling alley

After the tragic events, the bowling alley was shut down and has been abandoned ever since. It is pictured in 2022

After the tragic events, the bowling alley was shut down and has been abandoned ever since. It is pictured in 2022

After the tragic events, the bowling alley was shut down and has been abandoned ever since. It is pictured in 2022

‘State troopers responded swiftly with broad-scale beatings. The widescale unrest continued for many days.

‘On February 8, 1968, roughly 120 National Guardsmen, state troopers, and local police had amassed at the edges of South Carolina State’s campus.

‘An additional 450 troops were stationed downtown. The officers were issued shotguns loaded with double-ought buckshot, used to kill deer and other large game.’

As darkness fell, students at S.C. State gathered on a hill at the school’s entrance, holding hands and singing around a bonfire. 

’30 minutes later, firefighters moved in to douse the blaze, backed by just under 70 officers,’ Kent revealed.

‘The students began to retreat, but someone threw a bannister or a rock, hitting highway trooper David Shealy in the face. Shealy collapsed to the ground bleeding. Another officer fired his gun in the air as a warning shot.

‘Later claiming they feared the shot had been fired by a student, eight other officers and a city policeman opened fire. The onslaught lasted about 15 seconds. Between 100-150 students were present.

‘Of these, 31 young black people were shot, three of whom died. Two of the victims were Samuel Hammond, Jr. and Henry Smith, ages 18 and 19, who were students at South Carolina State.

‘The third victim was Delano Middleton, a 17-year-old senior at nearby Wilkinson High School.’ 

After the tragic events, the bowling alley was shut down and has been abandoned ever since. 

The officers who shot the students were charged for using excessive force at a campus protest, however, all nine of them were acquitted, according to History.com. One protestor, Cleveland Sellers, was convicted of rioting and was sentenced to one-year of hard labor. He was released after seven months.

Source: DailyMail

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