50th Anniversary of Lamar Riots to be Commemorated with Healing Roundtable Discussion

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LAMAR, SC – A group of citizens of the Town of Lamar  commemorated the 50th anniversary of an incident in which two school buses carrying African American children were attacked by a mob of white parents with a roundtable discussion Saturday, March 7 from 10 a.m. until 12 noon at Lamar High School.

The Healing Roundtable is the second of two commemorative events held under the theme, And Still We Rise: Lamar 50 Years Later. The first event, A Healing Vigil, was held at John Wesley United Methodist Church in Lamar on Tuesday, March 3. The event was held in the Lamar High School cafeteria, 216 North Darlington Street. The roundtable was followed by at reception at 12:30 p.m.

The purpose of the roundtable was to reflect on the events and their impact with the hope of learning lessons and moving forward, said Tim Dargan, chairman of the Lamar Commemoration Committee.

“Our purpose is to look back at the events of March 2nd and 3rd, 1970 and consider the impact they have had on the students that were on the buses and the Lamar community as a whole,” Dargan said.

Roundtable participants  included moderator Don Frierson, a radio public affairs talk show host and employee of the SC Human Affairs Commission from Columbia; Darlington County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tim Newman; and Rev. David Lunn, Clarence Brunson, Carolyn Lucas, and Doris Ann Hamilton, four of the former students on the buses that were attacked on March 3rd; and two local ministers.

On March 2 and 3, 1970, three buses carrying African American children to the newly desegregated Lamar High School were accosted by a mob of about 200 white citizens opposed to school desegregation that wielded ax handles, sticks, and chains. Bottles and rocks were thrown at the buses, windows were broken out, and buses disabled. Some children were injured and two buses were overturned after the students escaped into a school building. Rioters clashed with SC Highway Patrol troopers and other law enforcement officials who dispersed the crowds with tear gas.

Twenty-seven people were arrested and three convicted of common law riot after the incident.

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