Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State College

By Tim Spofford | Go to book overview

7

CRISIS

We have been believers feeding greedy grinning gods, like a
Moloch demanding our sons and our daughters, our
strength and our wills and our spirits of pain.

—Margaret Walker

Monday morning, May 18, 1970. Jackson, Mississippi was in turmoil.

Five hundred black children from schools across the city walked out of their morning classes, converging downtown to picket the Governor's Mansion. Meanwhile, dozens of Jackson State students were picketing stores in the capital to enforce a boycott of white businesses. Jackson's white merchants were seething. Since the campus shootings on Friday, three of their stores in black neighborhoods had gone up in flames.

Jackson's black leaders, too, were enraged. Dr. Aaron Shirley, a black pediatrician widely regarded as a moderate, had warned the next time lawmen shot at students, the black youths might not die so peacefully. Dr. Shirley belonged to the Mississippi United Front, a civil rights group that talked of forming a paramilitary Defense League to arm and protect blacks.

There were others thinking of guns. According to news reports, gunshops in Jackson were doing a brisk business. Even Jackson State students were threatening to buy guns to protect themselves. Responding to talk like that, black leaders were trying to keep the students busy with the boycott in the daytime and at church rallies at night.

"They were very militant," former NAACP Field Director Alex Waites recalls. "They were ready to burn down Capitol Street, and our fear was that their fervor was going to get them killed. We were afraid

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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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