Though Linnie Willis had completed the necessary coursework for her diploma, because she had been expelled as one of the "Ole Miss Eight" in 1970, she had never received it. As part of the 50th anniversary of those events, Willis was finally presented with what she had earned in 1970.
On Feb. 25, 1970, more than 60 African American students were arrested following a nonviolent protest staged in front of Fulton Chapel during a performance of the international music revue Up with People. Many of the students were detained at the State Penitentiary at Parchman. Eight students were expelled from the University. Fifty years later, the University of Mississippi commemorated these events with two days of remembrance, including speakers, panel discussions, a staged reading, and a luncheon. The events were sponsored by the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, with support from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and the Office of the Provost.