Films revisit the black Kent State shootings

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Two years before the deadly Kent State shootings, state troopers opened fire on a student protest on the campus of South Carolina State College. Three people died, and 28 were wounded.

The incident, which became known as “the Orangeburg Massacre,” never pierced the nation’s collective memory of the 1960s, and academics and survivors say that one reason was shoddy, racially biased press coverage: those killed were black.

But new media coverage may give the shootings their historical due, and some scholars and survivors hope it might also nudge South Carolina legislators to open a state investigation of the 40-year-old tragedy, which never received such scrutiny.

Dan Klores, a New York filmmaker and former public relations executive, has been thinking about Orangeburg and its obscurity in the historical memory for decades, since he was a student at the time at the nearby University of South Carolina in Columbia. He said he hoped his latest film, “Black Magic,” about basketball players at historically black colleges, will open people’s eyes to Orangeburg. (The film made its debut on ESPN on March 16.)

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