A group of close to 100 Black students gathered outside a Jackson State College dormitory on Lynch Street in Jackson, MS, on the night of May 14, 1970, to protest the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. The students were reportedly throwing rocks at cars and setting fires before police responded in force. At least 75 members of the Jackson Police Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol arrived at the scene in an effort to disperse the protestors. At 12:05 a.m. on May 15, the police officers opened fire on the crowd, which was now outside Alexander Hall. In the ensuing 30 seconds of gunfire, 460 shots were fired and Phillip Gibbs, 21, a junior at the college, and James Earl Green, 17, a senior at a nearby high school, were killed.
The shooting happened 11 days after a similar shooting at Kent State University in Ohio, which left four students dead. No one was ever charged in the shooting. In 2021, an official apology for the incident was given at Jackson State’s commencement ceremony.