J-S-U Receives Freedom Trail MarkerBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 19 Apr 2012 05:45pm |
Jackson State University is paying tribute to the lives of two young men killed by city and state police while protesting racial injustices in May of 1970. A Freedom Trail Marker has been erected on the J-S-U campus in their honor. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports on the events that led to yesterday's unveiling.
Under a scorching sun and a light spring breeze, James Baker, a student from the 1970 class of then Jackson State College vividly recalls the horrific events of May 15th of that year.
"City police and highway patrol marched right up here and one gentleman stood out front with a bullhorn and said may I have your attention please. And by that time, after he said that a bottled was hurled and when it burst all hell broke loose. They said it was 29 seconds, I've always said that it seemed like over an hour."
Within those 29 seconds a 21 year old Jackson State pre law student and a 17 year old high School student were shot and killed while 12 others were injured. The killings happened WHILE students were protesting a number of issues including racism, the war in Vietnam and the killings of 4 Kent State Students by Ohio National Guardsmen. At yesterday's unveiling of the Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker commemorating the JSU tragedy James Barksdale, Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority spoke about the trails significance.
"The significance is that it allows people to see the places that made history in the civil rights movement in Mississippi. So that they will hopefully never forget and will learn from and allow themselves to move forward knowing the past and making us better citizens in the future. "
Those are lessons that JSU Student Body President Elect Brian Wilks is already taking to heart.
"From the dorm that I live in actually behind us, the plaza that's in front of us it's a remembrance of why we are actually challenging minds at Jackson State. So it's a good remembrance of why Alexander Hall still stands and why our plaza still remains on our campus."
The JSU freedom marker is the 5th of 25 such markers that will be placed around the state by the Mississippi Development Authority. Other freedom markers are commemorating the lives of Emmit Till and Medgar Evers.
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