Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State College

By Tim Spofford | Go to book overview

6

YOKNAPATAWPHA
IN BLACK

When a feller has to start killin'folks, he
'most always has to keep on killin' 'em. And
when he does, he's already dead hisself
.

—William Faulkner, Sartoris

Both front doors of the tiny red-brick church were open. In their Sunday best, the crowd of black churchgoers stretched from the shadows indoors, down the concrete steps outside, and onto the wide sunlit lawn of St. Paul's Methodist Church. It was Sunday in the village of Ripley, Mississippi, but the people were not here for the Sabbath. They were here to pay their respects to Phillip Gibbs, the student shot three days before at Jackson State College, two hundred miles south of Ripley. Nearly a thousand mourners had come, crowding the pews and lining the aisles. Those who arrived last had to stand outside the church and strain for a glimpse of the ceremony. They could hear the organ music as the choir began to sing:

Fair are the meadows.
Fairer the woodlands,
Robed in flow'rs of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer,
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

After the service, a group of young black men in suits and ties emerged from the church with the coffin of Phillip Gibbs. Grim-faced, they scuffed down the steps and crossed the lawn to the hearse. Cars lined the winding roadway in front of the church, and the drivers followed the hearse as it moved slowly through the quiet, tree-shaded streets of Ripley. The procession would end just a mile away in the town's black burial ground.

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Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State College
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Lynch Street - The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State College *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Strange Roots *
  • 2 - Mayday in Amerika *
  • 3 - The Miniriot *
  • 4 - By the Magnolia Tree *
  • 5 - Jacktwo *
  • 6 - Yoknapatawpha in Black *
  • 7 - Crisis *
  • 8 - Majesty of the Law *
  • 9 - Showdown *
  • 10 - Nixon's Court *
  • Epilogue *
  • Sources and Methods *
  • Index *
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