We Must Not Forget The Jackson State MassacreRoundup
tags: racism, African American history, Police
Robert Luckett (@robbyjsu) is an associate professor of history and the director of the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University.
In the 1960s, white motorists driving along John R. Lynch Street, which cut through the middle of the historically black campus of what was then called Jackson State College, would often taunt students along the way with racist epithets, throw objects at them and threaten to hit pedestrians.
On Feb. 3, 1964, a white driver slammed into a Jackson State student named Mamie Ballard, sending her to the hospital. This incident began a yearslong push to close Lynch Street to traffic, which in turn helped propel the already potent local civil rights movement.
Jackson State may have been majority black, but it was in the capital of a state dominated by white supremacists, who governed the college. Informed by the civil rights and Black Power movements, students naturally saw the fight to close Lynch Street as a cornerstone of their broader push for justice and equality in Mississippi. With an increasingly aggressive tenor, the ensuing student demonstrations, which peaked each spring, demanded justice for Ms. Ballard, who survived, and that Lynch Street be closed.
On May 14, 1970, someone set fire to a dump truck parked in the middle of Lynch Street a few blocks from campus. While there was no evidence that student protesters had been involved, white authorities cited the vandalism to justify the use of force.
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