Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Jackson State, May 14, 1970: In Memory

On this day, 36 years ago, police opened fire upon unarmed protesters at a historically-black university in Mississippi. By the time they finished firing two young men lay dead, and over a dozen young men and women were injured, most of whom were in a dormitory that the local police riddled with gunfire.

Two young men died there. You do not know their names. And that, perhaps, is the real story.

These are their names:
Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21, pre-med.
James Earl Green, 17, high school student walking home from the grocery store.

The five-story dormitory was riddled by gunfire. FBI investigators estimated that more than 460 rounds struck the building, shattering every window facing the street on each floor. Investigators counted at least 160 bullet holes in the outer walls of the stairwell alone -- bullet holes that can still be seen today.

The injured students, many of whom lay bleeding on the ground outside the dormitory, were transported to University Hospital within 20 minutes of the shooting. But the ambulances were not called until after the officers picked up their shell casings, a U. S. Senate probe conducted by Senators Walter Mondale and Birch Bayh later revealed.

Unlike when National Guardsmen killed white students at Kent State, there was no real investigation. No white policemen were arrested for murder. It would have been futile. A white policeman being put on trial in Mississippi in 1970 for murdering a black man who was "being uppity" would have been instantly acquitted. Even today, justice in Mississippi is only for those who are well connected, not for those who are poor white trash, or black, or gay, or otherwise reviled and hated.

And unlike Kent State, nobody remembers Jackson State. Thousands showed up last year for a memorial to honor the victims of the Kent State murders. Fewer than 40 people showed up last year at a 35th anniversary memorial to honor the victims of the Jackson State murders. It is as if history has been redacted to wipe it from the collective conciousness. Or as if the people who died there were simply offal, garbage, to be buried and forgotten and certainly never mourned, for after all, they were uppity Negros, not fine upstanding white people like you or I or the young people killed at Kent State. If anybody remembers Jackson State at all, it is as a footnote to Kent State, not as an atrocity all its own, and the people who died there? Nameless. Forgotten.

These are their names:
Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21
James Earl Green, 17

But they have no names in today's America, except to the few who knew them, and remember. And to historians of the era, who grimly count the toll, and then shake their heads, knowing that few would wish to know, or care.

And so it goes in the United States of Delusion, where we pretend that all lives have equal value -- yet our actions, and our memories, prove otherwise.

- Badtux the Historian Penguin

Posted by: BadTux / 5/14/2005 12:21:00 AM  


Demetrius Gibbs, son of one of the two victims, has said, "In order for us to be acknowledged, it had to happen at Kent State first." Well, I may miss a lot of historical events, but I blogged about this one.

My 2 cents.
# posted by Mimus Pauly : 15/5/05 6:37 AM  

I wrote most of this one on May 5, after deciding that everybody else had already covered Kent State quite well, thank you. The remainder was written Wednesday, and lurked in the queue until I posted it last night. As to why Jackson State is only barely acknowledged, and only as a footnote to Kent State... I have theories, but no proof. But that is how it usually is, when dealing with things like this...
# posted by BadTux : 15/5/05 11:11 AM  

I'm certain that you have more proof on this count than you realize, considering how black people have been getting crapped on since the first shipment of slaves arrived in 1619. I know about Kent State partly because Neil Young wrote a song about it. I only know about Jackson State because from time to time I go out of my way to learn American history, such as in the late 90s, when I first heard about it. It's not like I have any memories of this event -- the shootings took place three months before I was born. But it's damned embarrassing that a lot of people who were alive at the time know nothing about it.

(And by the way {heh heh}, I may have been your fourth reader, but I was definitely not the first to add you to my blogroll. I found you through The Heretik. He's the one you need to thank...)
# posted by Mimus Pauly : 15/5/05 11:39 AM  

Penguin, thanks for noting this other day of infamy. Yours is the only blog I've seen that has remembered. I live up the pike from Kent State and sent a Jackson State post out yesterday, but I had to find the info on the official Jackson State website, not from the progressive sites (oh, wait, Counterpunch does have an article, sorry). Where are you?
Yes, yes, in the Antarctic Ocean, I know, but where really?
# posted by catherine : 15/5/05 12:36 PM  

Catherine, Daily Kos also posted a rememberance, albeit only on the 'Recommended Diaries' list rather than on the front page. And Mimus Pauly of course blogged about it. So I am but one penguin amongst many strange birds.

As for where I live, I have lived in a multitude of places so it is not particularly of interest. I am a native of the Southern United States, though I have no inclination to ever live again in JesusLand. My current landing spot is not particularly secret but not particularly relevant either, so "Some Iceberg, South Pacific" is as good an answer as any.
# posted by BadTux : 15/5/05 9:29 PM  

Thank goodness we have historian penguins!
# posted by Desi : 16/5/05 4:21 AM  

I don't know if I knew about Jackson State at the time it happened. I did read about Kent State contemporaneously, in Reader's Digest of all places, and was sick.

My thoughts on Jackson State are filtered through the experience of growing up surrounded by racism in Houston. Jackson State seems to be more related to the Klan, lynchings, Jim Crow, etc. than with the violent supression of youth counter-culture seen at Kent State, Chicago, etc.

Just another bunch of murderous crackers engaging in state sanctioned murder of non-whites.
# posted by mark : 17/5/05 11:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

 My Photo
Name: BadTux
Location: Some iceberg, South Pacific, Antarctica

I am a black and white and yellow multicolored penguin making his way as best he can in a world of monochromic monkeys.

April 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 /

Bill Richardson: Because what America needs is a competent fat man with bad hair as President (haven't we had enough incompetent pretty faces?)

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
Terror Alert Level
Honor Roll
Technorati embed?
Liberated Iraqis

"Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce." -- Molly Ivins, 1944-2007 "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

-- Plato

Are you a spammer? Then send mail to my spamtrack mailbox to get permenantly banned! Remember, that's (hehehhe!).

More blogs about bad tux the snarky penguin.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?