Timothy Minchin, John Salmond Scholarship on Kennard

Subject: Clyde Kennard's Life and Legacy
Themes: Education Civil Rights 20th Century Prison Pipeline
Age groups: High School
Resource type: Articles

Professors Timothy Minchin and John Salmond have written the most complete and thoroughly researched biographical materials on Clyde Kennard.

Two of their works are highlighted here.

The first is a footnoted, history paper published by the Mississippi Department of Archive and History (MDAH) entitled, "The Saddest Story of the Whole Movement": The Clyde Kennard Case and the Search for Racial Reconciliation in Mississippi, 1955–2007.

From this article: Even in a state with a notoriously racist justice system, Kennard's treatment was particularly unfair. According to John Dittmer, arguably the foremost historian of Mississippi's civil rights movement, Kennard's case was "the saddest story of the whole movement," a grave injustice "against a young man whose only offense was a desire to attend a college near his home." The Kennard case, adds historian Joseph Crespino, constitutes "one of the darkest stains on Mississippi's white leadership." At the time, Kennard's plight had a dramatic impact on NAACP state secretary Medgar Evers, who spent his own short life investigating numerous examples of racially motivated injustice. In 1961 Evers uncharacteristcally broke down when he tried to discuss his friend's plight at a Freedom Fund banquet in Jackson. As Evers's widow wrote in 1967, the Kennard case "was one of the long wracking pains of Medgar's years as Mississippi field secretary. He knew Clyde well and loved him … He stood there in front of hundreds of people as though his heart would break. Hundreds of us cried with him." READ THE ENTIRE PAPER HERE.

The second was published in the online journal, Mississippi History Now and is entitled, "Clyde Kennard: A Little-Known Civil Rights Pioneer." This article is written for students and includes some excellent photographs.

From this article: 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. Decades later, however, his case was taken up by civil rights activists, eventually resulting in Kennard receiving due recognition for his sacrifice. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.