Part of Freeway Named for Civil Rights Pioneer Clyde Kennard – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Clyde Kennard (Wikipedia)

A stretch of freeway near the University of Southern Mississippi was named to honor a civil rights pioneer who was wrongly convicted after trying to enroll in the all-white university in the 1950s.

The Hattiesburg-American reported that a ceremony was held Thursday to designate a section of US Highway 49 in honor of Clyde Kennard, the first black student to apply for admission to the university. Kennard, an Army veteran, was denied admission when he applied in 1955 and again in 1959.

Legislators voted to designate the highway segment for Kennard during the 2021 legislative period.

Kennard was convicted of buying $ 25 worth of chicken feed that he knew was stolen in 1960 and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Posthumous inquiries into Kennard’s case showed that the charges against Kennard were fabricated and the only witness against him has renounced his testimony. A judge in 2006 overturned the conviction.

Kennard died in 1963 after being released early from prison for having colon cancer.

Dennis Dahmer, son of murdered civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer, said stories like Kennards need to be told so that younger people can be inspired by the generations that have gone before them, the newspaper reported.

“It’s a terrible story about how the Mississippi justice system was used to thwart USM’s integration and lead directly to Clyde’s untimely death,” Dahmer said.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker said the marker will flank the exact campus where Kennard was denied the opportunity to continue his education.

“As I was getting ready this morning, one word came to mind: Salvation. . Salvation recognizes the injustices and collective failures of humanity, ”he said.

“Salvation does not undo injustice, but it can repent for it. It can work to correct it. It can bend that arc of the moral universe. As Theodore Parker and Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A little more toward justice.”

Comments are closed.