Written by Tomas Kassahun
Published on 17th May 2021
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Senator Hillman Frazier made a public apology for the unjust killings of two black students at Jackson State University in 1970 by police enforcement.
On 15th May 1970, students gathered at Jack State University campus to protest racial injustice. James “Lap” Baker, a former student, shared that the students were frustrated at the racial insults hurled and bottled hurled at Black students by white residents driving through the campus. During the protest, Police enforcement were called in to campus when it was reported that some students were throwing bottles at white drivers. An officer addressed the crowd of protesters when a student threw a bottle. In response, police fired shots at the crowd, which resulted in the death of Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, a college student, and James Earl Green, a high schooler. The officers were never charged for the killing of Phillip Gibbs and James Green.
Mayor Lumumba and Senator Frazier spoke at a special graduation ceremony to honour the class of 1970, whose graduation had been cancelled due to the police violence that occurred on campus that year. Seventy-four of the graduating class of 1970 attended the special graduation ceremony, including the sisters of Gibbs and Green who accepted posthumous honorary doctorate degrees on behalf of their brothers.
“The state of Mississippi never apologized for the tragedy that occurred on this campus that night — never apologized, So, since I’m here representing the state of Mississippi in my role as state senator, I’d like to issue an apology to the families, the Jackson State family, for the tragedy that occurred that night because they took very valuable lives.” – Senator Hillman Frazier