On May 14, 1970, two Jackson State University students were killed by Jackson police officers—10 days after the much more publicized Kent State shootings of four students in Ohio.
The victims of the JSU shootings were Phillip L. Gibbs, a junior at the school and father and James Earl Green, a high school senior.
Why didn't the JSU shooting get as much national attention? Well, the most obvious answer is the race of the victims. All four Kent State victims were white; the young men killed at Jackson State were African American.
On the evening of May 14, African-American youths were reportedly pelting rocks at white motorists driving down the main road through campus — frequently the site of confrontations between white and black Jackson residents.
Tensions rose higher when a rumor spread around campus that Charles Evers — a local politician, civil rights leader and the brother of slain activist Medgar Evers — and his wife had been killed, according to Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State College. The situation escalated when a non-Jackson State student set a dump truck on fire.
Police responded to the call. A group of students and non-students threw rocks and bricks at the officers. Police advanced to Alexander Hall, a large dorm for women.
Even if the rest of the nation has forgotten (or never knew), the shootings remain integrated into the curriculum and culture at JSU, where all students learn about the shootings during a mandatory orientation.
In C. Liegh McInnis' freshman composition class, students have to observe in the women's dorm and write a paper on it.
He told NPR: "The tragedy showed the resolve of the students.