Dear JSU Family,
Since assuming the responsibility of acting president, I have been greatly moved and encouraged by your contributions. You, our alumni, are the lifelong stakeholders of this institution, who rally to support “our dear ole college home” no matter the call. It is during difficult times that we must remember those who have endured and overcame insurmountable hardship only to emerge stronger than ever.
Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Gibbs-Green tragedy, let us never forget the loss of Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, James Earl Green, and the 12 others wounded on May 15, 1970. We honor their lives, families and those injured with this commemorative issue of our Jacksonian – “Tragedy and Triumph.”
As a JSU student in the ‘90’s, I spent a large portion of my college experience on the Gibbs-Green Memorial Plaza. It was there that I recognized and understood two young men became unwilling martyrs so that many of us could enjoy the freedoms we have today. The Gibbs-Green Memorial Plaza serves as an endless reminder of the unwavering spirit of our community.
Even now, amid a national pandemic, this same mindset allows us to look at the future of Jackson State University with optimism. It is a future filled with our brilliant faculty and staff educating and enlightening our talented students to fulfill their purpose. It is a future where our alumni base continues to grow in size, philanthropic efforts and support. You are one of the reasons that we boast proudly about our astounding Tiger Nation.
As you know, President Emeritus Dr. John A. Peoples made the difficult but necessary decision to close the campus after the Gibbs-Green tragedy. As a result, the Class of 1970 had no graduation ceremony and received their degrees via mail.
This year, we had to, unfortunately, postpone commencement exercises for our May 2020 graduates, including a symbolic walk across the commencement stage by the Golden Class of 1970. The families of Gibbs and Green were also to publicly receive honorary doctorates on behalf of their loved ones. We are actively seeking the first opportunity to celebrate these momentous milestones. At that time, Dr. Peoples will confer the degrees of the Golden Class of 1970, which will be a beautiful historic moment to witness.
One thing that makes our JSU Family so remarkable is our uncanny ability to adapt and persevere despite circumstances. So as we press forward, let us find inspiration in each other, let us not forget those who sacrificed and let us remember that we are JSU Strong.
Thomas K. Hudson, J.D.
Class of ’99