The May 1970 Tragedy at Jackson State University:
November 22, 2003 4:55 AM   Subscribe

The May 1970 Tragedy at Jackson State University: "Lest We Forget..." 'In the Spring of 1970, campus communities across this country were characterized by a chorus of protests and demonstrations. The issues were the escalation of the war in Vietnam and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia; the ecology; racism and repression; and the inclusion of the experiences of women and minorities in the educational system. No institution of higher education was left untouched by confrontations and continuous calls for change. '
'At Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi, there was the added issue of historical racial intimidation and harassment by white motorists traveling Lynch Street, a major thoroughfare that divided the campus and linked west Jackson to downtown ... '
posted by plep (16 comments total)
You're either wish us or you're against us.

Killing students is out of fashion. Well, American students, anyway.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:19 AM on November 22, 2003

('wish'='with'. imagine shrub slurring after a few cocktails or something, before he got the bloodthirsty jesus in him.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:21 AM on November 22, 2003

Touching. See also Kent State University, where this well-known picture stems from.
posted by spazzm at 6:57 AM on November 22, 2003

Anyone else find it ironic that most of us neither remember tragic events happening to minorities...nor remember the name of the black woman who'd been captured by the Iraquis. Just in case you need to be reminded:
posted by TBocce at 7:26 AM on November 22, 2003

I thought I knew about all the important student demonstrations and clashes of that era, but today is the first time I had ever read the details of Jackson State.
posted by mischief at 7:56 AM on November 22, 2003

Yup. News to me as well.
thanks for the education.

stavros, kudos for the most unrelated introduction of Bush I've yet seen.
posted by Busithoth at 8:13 AM on November 22, 2003

I see three distinct components to this event.

1) Students and others riot and prevent emergency services from responding. (N.B.: common practice to prevent firemen from extinguishing fires.)

2) Police arrive, are attacked, and overreact. Students and others are *willing* to confront massed, aggressive police.

3) Authorities try to cover up and mitigate.

Conclusion: the rioters wanted chaos, violence and destruction against others over perceived injustice (rumor).
The authorities responded with violence against rioters and others. The authorities are immediately sensitive to their having done wrong, the rioters are not.

No sympathy for any of the above.
posted by kablam at 8:26 AM on November 22, 2003

Thanks for the link. I had heard of Jackson State but knew very little about it.

Kablam, I knew nothing about this history, but you read about it but seem to be determined not to learn anything from it.
posted by rdr at 9:38 AM on November 22, 2003

I grew up in Jackson and my grandparents lived about a mile from JSU. I remember as a kid the JSU event and the general concern of the grownups around me. Growing up white in Mississippi in the 60's I was pretty insulated from the general unrest but the shooting on campus is something I remember. I was 9 when it happened. I have since looked up the event and was familiar with what happened but there's something about an event from your childhood that caused such concern for the grownups around you.

Thanks for the link.
posted by whatever at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2003

dubya's (and his cronies) ties with this atrocity are well known, as stav has bravely pointed out already. but how does jfk fit in with all of this? i'm bummed.
posted by poopy at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2003

I've read about the Jackson State incident before...but I always think it bears repeating. And Kablam, I think you're missing some salient the fact that more than 410 rounds were fired at students, and that no ambulances were called until the police had picked up their shells.

There have always been laws against excessive force.
posted by dejah420 at 10:43 AM on November 22, 2003

rdr and dejah420: When I looked at this site, I see reflected a *bunch* of bad decisions, and on both sides. 410 rounds, elevated, on the side of a building tells me at least the police were shooting over the heads of protestors. More than anything else, this says the police were trying to *stampede* the rioters, not *shoot* them.
Still, very bad judgement.
The rioters were just that, rioting, not protesting. Arson is not legitimate protest. And reasonably, if you are confronted by armed-with-guns people, do you throw things at them? Are you nuts?
And what about the bad judgement of onlookers. Standing at a scene where violence is taking place, even guns being discharged? At first glance you might think it is situational numbness, but how long does that excuse last?

Again, LOTS of felony crimes being committed all around, but one felony does not excuse another felony. And yes, I mentioned the "cover up" by the authorities. But at what point was this situation out of control? Should the authorities have backed down and allowed a riot, with Rodney King-like destruction and death? Should the rioters have dispersed when faced with overwhelming force? Lots of people could have done plenty to stop this from happening. Apparently, they didn't.

I do not see black and white, here, like just recently at the protests in Miami where the protestors were behaving themselves and the police were out of control.

Here, both sides were out of control.
posted by kablam at 1:20 PM on November 22, 2003

There was also the February 8, 1968 incident at South Carolina State University.

They mostly brought it on themselves, though, what with their heedless and anarchic desire to bowl. *rolls eyes*
posted by tyro urge at 2:24 PM on November 22, 2003

Kablaam: I do not see black and white, here

I assume you mean that it's not a black and white issue and are not saying that there wasn't a racial aspect to the situation.

Mississippi refused to integrate their schools. During the 1969-1970 school year the schools were desegregated. It was done at the Christmas break and I always assumed that it was because they had a 1970 deadline to desegregate or loose federal money.

In December, 1969 my classmates and I were told to take everything home with us for Christmas break. When we went back to school in January, 1970 we found things much different. I didn't change schools so it was shocking to show up and find that some of your friends were no longer there and a lot of new people (some white, mostly black) were your classmates. I had a new teacher as well. White Mississippians (or at least Jacksonians) were in a panic and clamoring to quickly establish an Academy system (also known as "white flight schools") so their children could continue to attend white schools.

Provine High School (located not far from JSU) had finished the year integrated with some quirky bussing districts, and big fights between blacks and whites were the norm for the remainder of that year and a few years after.

This is the context in which the violence at JSU occurred.
posted by whatever at 2:37 PM on November 22, 2003

whatever: sounds like a right royal mess. And no, I did not intend that to have a racial context, more a "good guy" and "bad guy" situation--which I maintain it wasn't--both sides operating at fault.

I mentioned both the Rodney King riot and the recent Miami police riot; being a local, can you compare riots and contrast them? I can imagine public disturbances with the rioters clearly at fault, as I can with the police and civil authorities at fault. But in this case, I still haven't seen any clear distinction between "good guys" and "bad guys".

The great riot that never happened, stopped by singer James Brown, shows the incredible power of a good-intentioned public figure. But there didn't seem to be a force for peace or non-violence here. Perhaps you can shed some light on the situation.

It just seems that both sides were itching for a fight...
posted by kablam at 4:57 PM on November 22, 2003

kudos for the most unrelated introduction of Bush I've yet seen.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:24 PM on November 22, 2003

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