The Bluefield College Bombing

On this day in 1968, an explosion ripped through the gymnasium of the Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia. The blast came amid rising tensions between the African American students of the school and the administration over allegations that the school was changing what was a historically black college to a white commuter college.

It being Thanksgiving week, most of the students and faculty were away for the holiday, so nobody was injured in the bombing, which left a huge hole in the side of the building.

Governor Hulett C. Smith offered a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the bombing. A black student was indicted, but the charges against him were dropped.

The dormitories were also closed in the wake of the bombing, forcing many out of state African-American students to drop out, since finding off campus housing was nearly impossible due to housing discrimination in the area. As a result, the school is now the “whitest” college listed as a historically black college by the federal government, with less than 13 percent of the student body consisting of African-Americans.

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