A Decade of Action: Margaret Walker Center to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of Gibbs-Green tragedy

(JACKSON, Miss.) — The Margaret Walker Center is pleased to announce an exhibition unveiling, wreath laying, and reception in Ayer Hall at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, for the 52nd annual commemoration of the Gibbs-Green tragedy at Jackson State University. This event is free and open to the public.

In the late hours of May 14 and into the early morning of May 15, 1970, Jackson City Police and Mississippi Highway Patrolmen marched on the Jackson State campus and fired nearly 500 rounds of ammunition in 28 seconds into Alexander Hall, a women’s dormitory.

Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, a Junior political science major, and James Earl Green, a Senior at nearby Jim Hill High School, were killed. Twelve others were shot, and dozens were injured by flying debris, glass, and brick in the ensuing chaos. No police officer was ever held accountable. Shortly after the shootings, campus was closed, and graduation ceremonies for the Class of 1970 were canceled.

This year’s commemoration in Ayer Hall will include the unveiling of a special exhibition, A Decade of Action: Jackson State, Lynch Street, and the Civil Rights Movement. Founded as a seminary for freedpeople in Natchez in 1877, Jackson State became the heart of the John R. Lynch Street corridor, named in honor of a Black man who had risen from slavery to become a US Congressman. Around the campus, a thriving African American business district and residential community emerged, and civil rights organizations opened their offices there, making the street a hub for the modern movement.

A Decade of Action explores the civil rights movement on Lynch Street from 1961 to the brutal police shootings at Jackson State in 1970. 

Contact Lauren Shelby, Margaret Walker Center Education and PR Manager, at lauren.e.shelby@jsums.edu or 601-979-3935for more information.