Poem gets standing ovation at Orangeburg Massacre ceremony

By: JASMINN DOW
Feb 10, 2018

interview POET jasminn dow

Claflin senior Krista Bradley. (Panther photo by Jasminn Dow)

 

A senior from Claflin read her poem dedicated to the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre during the remembrance ceremony on Thursday.

The ceremony was held on South Carolina State campus. The senior received a standing ovation after reading “American Pies on American Quilts.”

“The crowd’s reaction was amazing,” Krista Bradley said. “But I didn't expect it.”

Bradley said she was presented with the opportunity at the last minute. A professor was looking for a poet and reached out to the Spoken Word Club.

“I'll do it,” was her response.

She said the main message she wanted the audience to receive was that the white community tried to tear down and erase the black community. “But they can't.”

A selected stanza reads: “They let hatred ring as we fled the scene on that Selma bridge and were chased and beaten. Young and old unarmed black men and women. We were in our churches when 4 little girls were blindsided. We lit a bonfire on our campus. And shot guns full of buckshots pointed themselves at the crowds of us, and opened fire as we ran away. 3 black bodies were left soulless that day and there’s still strange fruit hanging from our poplar trees and I don’t know if it’s just me, but we not taking it no more! Freedom is coming and we gone let it roar!

 

Bradley said it meant a lot to be asked to read a poem for the 50th anniversary. “I feel so blessed to be even mentioned in the program.”

Originally, she wanted to write the poem in a sympathetic way from an officer’s viewpoint.

“I wanted to write it in a different perspective.”

During the 1968 incident at S.C. State, three students were killed and 28 were wounded while protesting. Krista said that it is necessary to protest, even outside of marching in the streets.

“I think one of the most powerful protest is boycotting,” she said.

Bradley is an African American studies major.

 

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