The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer was perhaps the most ambitious extended campaign of the entire Civil Rights Movement. Over the course of roughly two months, more than 1,000 volunteers arrived in Mississippi to help draw media attention to the state’s Black freedom movement, to register African American voters, and to teach in Freedom Schools that were established to supplement the inferior educational opportunities provided to black youths in the state’s public schools.
Mississippi University for Women, originally the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls, was the first taxpayer supported college for women in the United States.
Clyde Kennard put his life on the line in the 1950s when he attempted to desegregate higher education in Mississippi. Kennard, a little-known civil rights pioneer, tried to become the first African American to attend Mississippi Southern College, now The University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg. In doing so, he ran afoul of the White political establishment and paid a heavy price. After his tragic death, his story was overshadowed by other developments in the civil rights movement.
Clyde Kennard, a young Korean war veteran born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, tried in 1955 to become the first African American to attend what is now The University of Southern Mississippi. Though overshadowed by more well-known figures from the mid-20th century civil rights movement, Kennard’s story is an integral part of the history of segregated Mississippi. It is the story of a seemingly ordinary person who courageously acted on his beliefs. Clyde Kennard deserves a permanent place in the annals of the civil rights struggle.
The Community and Junior College System in Mississippi: A Brief History of its Origin and Development
By early 21st century, nearly 11 percent of the Mississippi population was educated in some way in the state’s public community and junior colleges. Educational activities included university-track academic classes, training in career and technical skills, workforce education directed toward specific jobs, adult basic education, community enrichment courses, and test preparation for the general equivalency diploma, or GED.
Although largely unplanned, Mississippi’s community and junior colleges grew out of the effort to establish agricultural high schools in rural areas of the state in the early 1900s. Today, Mississippi’s fifteen two-year colleges play a role in the education of many students throughout the state.
CONNECTION TO THE CURRICULUM
Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1 – 4
Public schooling in Mississippi did not become commonplace until after the American Civil War. After the United States Supreme Court decided in its 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that states could require separate public facilities for Black and White people as long as they were equal (the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine), White-dominated school boards began concentrating more of their efforts and funding on schools for White children, rather than for Black.
Washington, Mississippi, provided the stage in the early 19th century for extraordinary historical events: In 1801 it became the capital of the Mississippi Territory; in 1811, Jefferson College, the only chartered educational institution prior to the statehood of Mississippi opened there; and in 1817, Mississippi’s state constitution was drafted there in a small Methodist Church, which later became part of Jefferson College.
Jefferson College, Mississippi’s first institute of higher learning, opened in 1811. The site chosen for the establishment of this now historic school was Washington, the capital of the Mississippi Territory. Over its one-hundred-and-fifty-three-year history as an institute of learning, Jefferson College struggled with lack of financial support and student enrollment. Even though the school was forced to close in 1964, Jefferson College continues its legacy of learning through its museum, buildings, and grounds.
When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education, compliance with this judicial ruling was met with much resistance in Mississippi. Even though most Mississippi schools had integrated peacefully by the mid-1970s, the integration of Mississippi schools was a long hard-fought battle that took place between the national government and state officials.