South Carolina: All Star Bowling Lane

All-Star Bowling Alley
All-Star Bowling Alley, Photograph courtesy of the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Offic

Quick Facts

1543 Russell Street in Orangeburg, South Carolina

All Star Bowling Lane--Orangeburg, South Carolina's only bowling alley--played a pivotal role in the February 8, 1968, "Orangeburg Massacre" on the campus of South Carolina State College. In this confrontation between black students and police, three students were killed and 27 injured.

In 1968, the segregated bowling alley was a rarity in Orangeburg because most public places in the city were integrated. Since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, local black leaders and members of the white business community had tried to persuade All Star to desegregate. Their efforts and simultaneous appeals to the U.S. Justice Department failed. All Star's manager claimed that bowling alleys were not covered under the Act. Local African Americans argued that since All Star had a snack bar, it was indeed covered under the Act--specifically, under the interstate commerce provision in the public accommodations section.

On Monday night, February 6, a group of black students from nearby South Carolina State and Claflin Colleges came to the bowling alley and refused to leave. The next night, another group returned and 15 were arrested. On February 8, 300 students appeared in the parking lot in front of All Star, AND were met by 100 local, county, and state law enforcement officers. As students began moving forward, the officers beat them with batons. While the student demonstrators worked their way back to the colleges, they broke car and store windows, and Governor Robert E. McNair mobilized a National Guard unit.

The confrontation between students and police was the most violent incident in South Carolina's civil rights history except for the February 8 "Orangeburg Massacre." Both events were typical of the tense times in the period leading up to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968.


Visit the National Park Service We Shall Overcome travel itinerary to learn more about the civil rights movement themes and histories. Also, be sure to check out Civil Rights subject site.

Last updated: July 28, 2017