May 14, 2010
The 40th anniversary of the shootings at Jackson State
I write this post in memory of Phillip Lafayette Gibbs (c. 1949-1970) and James Earl Green (c. 1953-1970). They were killed forty years ago tonight, when police opened fire on a crowd of protesters on the campus of Jackson State College (now Jackson State University) in Mississippi. You can read about the shootings at this site, the text of which is reproduced in the post I wrote on the subject a year ago. I also appreciated seeing that NPR recently covered the event.
I know it’s generally considered bad form to quote oneself, but I can’t think of anything to add to what I said last year:
The spring of 1970 was a dark period in our nation’s history, and it needs to be remembered, and I say that not because I’m a right-wing caricature of a left-wing anti-American pinko hippie*, but because I believe that our country needs to learn from events like the May 1970 campus shootings in order to move in the direction of living up to its moniker of “sweet land of liberty.”
(*indeed, one might argue that the attitude that protesting the actions of the US government and/or dissenting in other ways makes one anti-American is part of what led to the Jackson State and Kent State shootings in the first place…)
Seriously, the idea that if a person has anything negative to say about actions the government has taken, socio-political conditions in the US, etc., then it automatically means they don’t love or even hate this country (“if you hate it so much here, why don’t you move somewhere else, huh?!”) cannot die a quick enough death, as far as I’m concerned. (Don’t even get me started on the folks who seem to think that believing the President is Kenyan means you’re a patriot, and wanting your fellow citizens to have medical coverage means you should move to Europe.) I love my country; I just think we can do better than killing protesters and passers-by.