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Kennard, Clyde, 1927-1963


Clyde Kennard, a former sergeant and paratrooper in the U.S. Army, first attempted to enroll at Mississippi Southern College, now the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Because he was initially turned down, he tried again in 1958 and 1959. After several unsuccessful attempts, the Sovereignty Commission, with the help of Mississippi Southern's President, William D. McCain, carried out an extensive campaign to force Kennard to withdraw his application. Most of these efforts consisted of getting local black and white "leaders" to persuade Kennard not to enroll. When this failed, school authorities falsely arrested Kennard for the possession of liquor, which had been planted in his car on campus. Later, authorities falsely charged Kennard with stealing chicken feed. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the maximum penalty of seven years at Parchman Penitentiary. Although Thurgood Marshall argued before the U.S. Supreme Court to have Kennard released, the court held up the lower court's decision and Kennard stayed in prison. A few years later he died of cancer, exacerbated by overwork and lack of medical attention in the penitentiary. -- University of Southern Mississippi Oral History Civil Rights Documentation Project WWW site.

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