Police fired for about 30 seconds on a group of students at Jackson State in Mississippi, killing two and wounding 12 others.
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.
The two young men who were gunned down in the melee were Phillip L. Gibbs, a junior at Jackson State and the father of an 18-month-old; and James Earl Green, a high school senior.
A plaza on campus commemorates the victims of the shooting.
All Jackson State students learn about the shooting in a mandatory orientation class, and professors evoke the event as a teaching tool.
C. Liegh McInnis, who teaches creative writing and world literature at Jackson State, says the story of the shooting is integrated into the curriculum of several liberal arts departments.
In McInnis’ own freshman composition class, students are required to see the bullet holes in the women’s dorm themselves while researching a critical analysis paper about the shooting.
On Thursday, Jackson State held the 40th-anniversary memorial to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting.
The event brought back 24 alumni who attended Jackson State in 1970, some of whom had been injured that night.