The historic bowling alley known for sparking segregation protests in 1968 opened its doors to the public for the first time in 15 years on Sunday.
ORANGEBURG, SC — The historic bowling alley known for sparking segregation protests in 1968 opened its doors to the public for the first time in years on Sunday.
The Orangeburg community entered the All-Star Triangle Bowling Alley to soak up history before its renovation.
It’s been closed to the public for about 15 years, but residents like Jermain Williams got to experience the 60s lanes before they were resurfaced.
“It feels good to know that someone was still hanging on to it,” Williams told News19.
The driveway is content from the past. As Ellen Zisholtz of the Center for Creative Partnerships explained, it all started in 1968 when the driveway wouldn’t allow black students to enter.
“They came down and they tried to get into the bowling alley,” Zisholtz said. “You have to realize it was 1968 after the Civil Rights Amendment to the Constitution… They weren’t allowed in.”
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The bowling actions led to protests in the city and eventually, the infamous Orangeburg Massacre in the state of South Carolina followed. In it, police fired into a crowd of protesters, killing three people and injuring dozens more.
Although it’s a painful reminder of the past, Williams said it’s important to preserve historic places like the alley.
“Hopefully this can teach a lot of lessons and bring everyone together so everyone can learn to have fun and talk and get together with everyone,” Williams said.
Thanks to a $500,000 federal grant, Zisholtz said the center, which now owns All-Star, will begin renovations in a few months.
“It will be beautiful but it will be historic. I call it the first-ever civil rights bowling alley,” Zisholtz said.
Their hope is to transform a place once divided by hate into a center of united justice for all, while also providing bowling.
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Williams said he hopes to bring his children to the alley and that they can pass it on to their children one day.
On February 8, the anniversary of the Orangeburg Massacre, there will be a ceremony in the state of South Carolina where they will unveil three statues of the victims who died in the attack. Additionally, All-Star Bowling lanes will reopen to the public one last time before renovations begin.