On Feb. 24, 1970, forty students from the Black Student Union presented 27 demands for inclusivity on campus to then-Chancellor Porter Fortune. At the same time, another group of black students burned a Confederate flag and danced on tables in the cafeteria to the music of B.B. King. The next day, almost half of the black students at the university participated in a peaceful protest outside of Fulton Chapel during a concert. During and after the concert, 89 people were arrested and sent to a local jail or Parchman state penitentiary. They were released the next day. Eight students were suspended from the university:
- John Donald
- Alva Ruth Peyton
- Henrieese Roberts
- Kenneth Mayfield
- Donald Ray Cole
- Paul D. Jackson
- Theron Evans Jr.
- Linnie Liggins
This was “a watershed event,” wrote university historian David Sansing. The results of the protests would electively start black students’ ongoing struggle to be seen as full members of the university community.
--- Excerpt from Editorial in the Daily Mississippian by Daniel Payne, February 23, 2020
To celebrate this anniversary and reflect on Black Power at UM, the University hosted a two-day event on February 24-25, 2020 that included a film screening, a staged reading, a panel discussion, a commemorative ceremony, and the keynote address for Black History Month.