Ole Miss apologizes to black students arrested for protesting 50 years ago

Ole Miss apologizes to black students arrested for protesting 50 years ago

The University of Mississippi apologized to dozens of black students who were arrested for protesting racial inequality on campus 50 years ago.

The university hosted a conference Tuesday titled “Black Power at Ole Miss: Remembrance, Reckoning, and Repair at Fifty Years.” 

It’s been 50 years since 89 people were arrested at a protest and eight students were suspended from the university, The Associated Press reported. Five of those eight students returned for the conference. 

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“I am sorry it took us 50 years to do this,” Provost Noel Wilkin said at the conference, according to the AP. 

One of the suspended students, Linnie Liggins Willis, received her diploma from the university, which had originally refused to give it to her, although she finished her coursework before her arrest. Willis now works as the executive director at Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority in Toledo, Ohio, the AP reported.

"I guess to this day, we still don't really know how the eight were singled out," Willis said, according to Memphis station News Channel 3. "We were told because they could recognize us in the picture, but we didn't do anything different from the rest of the group."

On Feb. 24, 1970, 40 students from the Black Student Union at the university sent a list of demands to the chancellor, including more black faculty, a black studies program and the removal of Confederate imagery on campus, according to The Daily Mississippian.

The same month, nearly half the black students on campus protested while Up with People, a music group, performed on campus, including one song about racial inclusion. The dozens of people arrested were sent to the local jail or Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman overnight.